Suspected Maoists killed 61 people in six districts of West Bengal between 2005 and 2008, while 323 activists of the Left-wing radical group were arrested during the same period, state Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee said in Kolkata on Thursday.
Replying to questions in the state Assembly, Bhattacharjee said the extremists killed 32 people in West Midnapore, five in Bankura, 12 in Purulia, nine in Nadia, two in Birbhum and one in North Dinajpur districts.
Between 2006 and 2009, 16 policemen, 31 political workers and seven others became victims of Maoist violence in the state, he said.
Bhattacharjee said Left radicals were mainly active in 12 police station areas in the state, of which three were in Purulia, five in West Midnapore and four in Bankura district.
A total of 39 suspected Maoists have been arrested from three districts since the June 18 launch of the security operation by the joint central and the state police forces in and around Lalgarh area.
The chief minister told the house during question hour that Maoists generally operated in the state through some open forum like the Lalgarh-based People's Committee against Police Atrocities (PCAPA).
"The PCAPA is a Maoist platform. Again there are some small parties who are Maoist supporters and distribute posters and leaflets in support of these extremists. We are keeping a watch on them," he said.
When a member asked why he has made clearance from the home secretary mandatory before arresting anybody under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), Bhattacharjee said the UAPA was a very harsh law and cannot be kept under the sole purview of the police to prevent its misuse.
The decision was arrived at after a meeting of the state cabinet's core committee, which recommended the act has to be used cautiously, he added.
Discounting the notion that the Maoist problem was the result of underdevelopment, the chief minister said during the height of the Khalistan movement, Punjab had the highest per capita income in the country.
Terming the Maoists terrorists and anarchists, the chief minister said it was for these reasons that they oppose development activities like construction of roads.
The chief minister said the normalcy was coming back to the Lalgarh region though some people were still living in fear of the Maoists.
"But I think this fear element will go away soon as people can now very well see and understand the differences between now and the situation before the civil forces movement," Bhattacharjee said.