The Telegraph
Monday , February 3 , 2014
CIMA Gallary

Still a soft target for rebels

Ranchi, Feb. 2: Jharkhand continues to top the list of worst affected states in the country in terms of Left-wing extremism (LWE), recording the maximum number of Naxalite-related incidents in a year for the third consecutive time.

According to figures released by the Union home ministry, the state witnessed as many as 383 incidents in 2013, comprising a whopping 33 per cent of the total 1,129 Naxalite incidents across the country.

And if the recent Maoist ambush on a 200-member security team that went to a forest on Giridih-Dhanbad border to rescue four rebel hostages is any indication, the year of 2014 is not going to be any better either. In the January 27 incident, one CRPF jawan was killed and 14 security personnel were injured in landmine blasts.

Moreover, the Union home ministry report suggests, neighbouring Chhattisgarh — it suffered the biggest Maoist ambush of 2013 that eliminated the entire top leadership of the state Congress — reported 353 incidents to maintain its second position. Bihar, on the other hand, stood third with 176 incidents.

States like Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal are better off in this regard, witnessing just 36 and 1 incident, respectively, in 2013.

“It is true that we continue to bear the maximum brunt of extremism,” additional director-general of police (ADGP) Rezi Dungdung told The Telegraph.

The ADGP, however, maintained that a number of splinter groups of the CPI(Maoist), apart from the original Naxalite outfit, were active in Jharkhand, contributing to the rebel-related incidents.

“Most of the states are facing the main challenge from CPI(Maoist). But we have been fighting against the Maoists as well as several breakaway factions — Tritiya Prastuti Committee, People’s Liberation Front of India, Jharkhand Prastuti Committee and others,” Dungdung explained.

He added that constant operations were being carried out and hence the figures had shown a downward movement in the state. As per a rough estimate, no less than 20,000 para-military personnel have been deployed across the state to fight rebels.

But, as the home ministry figures suggest, despite the decline in the numbers, Jharkhand has failed to shed the tag of being the worst Naxalite-hit state in the past few years.

In 2011, the state recorded 517 incidents, while it witnessed 480 rebel-induced mishaps in 2012, indicating an improvement in the situation. The number dropped further (383) the last year, but Jharkhand retained the top slot.

Chhattisgarh, which till a few years ago was known as the worst among the rebel-hit states, recorded 465 incidents in 2011 and 370 in 2012, thereby standing just below Jharkhand at the national level.

In 2008, Chhattisgarh had stood on the top with 620 incidents as against 484 in Jharkhand.

Unfortunately, Jharkhand with 742 incidents surpassed Chhattisgarh (529) in 2009. In the subsequent year, Chhattisgarh regained its top slot.

Interestingly, Jharkhand’s big brother, Bihar somewhat managed to contain rebel attacks to some extent during this period. It saw 316 incidents in 2011, which fell to 166 in 2012.

Many people termed the lack of political will as the main reason behind Jharkhand’s failure in the fight against Naxalites.

“In states like Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal, the political class took a conscious decision to curb the menace and the figures have consequently gone down sharply. The situation in Jharkhand is different and the parties here have not been able to take such a strong step,” said a senior police officer, not wishing to be named.