2019 Yearender: Lowest Maoist violence in last five years in Chhattisgarh
Chhattisgarh witnessed lowest Maoist violence in the last five years in the year 2019 as per the state police data. However, a section of police officers in the state believe that forces in Maoist –hit areas were less aggressive because of parliamentary and municipal elections.
The figures which is available with Hindustan Times suggests that from January 1 to December 19, a total of 46 civilian were killed by Maoists in 2019 in a declining trend from 89 in 2018, 58 in 2017, 61 in 2016 to 52 in 2015.
2019 also saw the lowest casualty among the security personnel in the last five years at 22, compared to 48 in 2015, 41 in 2016, 61 in 2017 and 58 in 2018. The police brass attributes the significant decline to a change in strategy.
“We have done operations on the basis of specific intelligence input due to which the damage of the security forces was less,” Director General of Police (DGP) DM Awasthi told Hindustan Times.
79 Maoists were killed in 2019 till December 19, which is more than 46 encounter killings in 2015 and 77 in 2017. 135 Maoists were killed in 2016, and 124 in 2018.
“This clearly reflects that our strategy is working on ground,” Awasthi said, adding, the government policies had helped in minimizing the Maoist violence in the Bastar region.
He also said that the security forces hit relatively “bigger cadres” this year
116 encounters in 2019 were also the lowest in the last five years. 193 encounters took place in 2015, 211 in 2016, 197 in 2017 and 166 in 2018 as per police data.
A senior state police official, however, said that the data didn’t provide a comprehensive picture of the situation.
“There is a contrary side of these figures for 2019. Chhattisgarh government and police were less aggressive on the ground due to elections. Secondly, the Maoists have expanded their area and developed new divisions in the state, which means their operations are continuing on the ground,” said the senior police official.
A total of 484 Maoists were arrested in 2019 while 308 surrendered. Recovered weapons and IEDs numbered 161 and 192 respectively.
A former Maoist said the reason for less violence could also be attributed to less recruitment from the ground.
“The recruitment of Maoists has gone down in Bastar. …hence the Maoists avoided engagement this year,” said Badaranna, former senior ultra who surrendered in 2000 and now lives in Jagdalpur.