In a year that saw the government plan its biggest surge of central police forces in Naxal-affected areas, Maoists have hit back hard.
There was a 40 per cent increase in the number of Maoist incidents this year, pushing the violence profile of the Naxals to a new high.
By October-end, the Maoists were responsible for 1,817 incidents that killed 455 civilians and 287 policemen. Over the next 20 days alone, they carried out more than 100 attacks that killed 30 villagers and tribals.
Ajay Maken, Minister of State in the Home Ministry, told Parliament on Wednesday that 1,920 incidents had been reported till November 20.
Home Ministry officials said this was the highest figure in any year.
“Maoists have raised the tempo through this year in anticipation of the offensive and to disrupt the Lok Sabha elections and the ongoing Jharkhand elections,” he said.
Other factors like the operations in West Bengal’s Lalgarh area — which the home ministry has described as a laboratory for the planned offensive across states — also pushed up the violence profile.
Explaining the central approach, Home Minister P. Chidambaram had on Wednesday pointed out that it was no use pumping in crores of rupees into areas held by naxals if the money was going to go into naxal pockets.
The government, he said, intended to use the minimum force necessary to restore the rule of law in naxal-infested areas and then deliver a heavy dose of development.
Maoists are reported to be holed up in the dense forests along inter-state borders, particularly around Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Jharkhand and Maharashtra. The central offensive is going to focus in these areas.