With a gradual decline in leftwing extremism-related violence and elimination of top Naxal commanders, the Union Home Ministry has claimed that 44 districts in the country are no longer under the influence of the leftwing extremism (lWE), which is now confined only to 30 worst-hit districts.
Union Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba said the geographical spread of the lWE violence has shrunk significantly in the last four years due to a multi-pronged strategy involving security and development-related measures. “There is no influence or negligible presence of lWE in 44 districts and most of the Naxal violence is confined now only to 30 worst-affected districts,” he told PTI in an interview here.
Gauba said significant features of the anti-Naxal policy were zero tolerance towards violence coupled with a big push to developmental activities so that benefits of new roads, bridges, telephone towers reach the poor and the vulnerable in the affected areas. The Ministry of Home Affairs had categorised 106 districts in 10 States as lWE-affected districts.
The Government has last year told Parliament that as many as 12,000 people have lost their lives in Maoist violence over the last two decades and of these, 2,700 were personnel of security forces.
According to a statistics prepared by the Home Ministry and submitted to Parliament, those killed include 9,300 innocent civilians who were either killed by the Naxals, labelling them as ‘police informers’, or were victims in crossfire. However, the violence perpetrated by the Naxals has declined by 25 per cent in last three years, notwithstanding occasional reverses suffered by the security forces.
There has been a decline of 25 per cent in lWE-related violence and casualties to security forces dropped by as much as 42 per cent during May 2014-April 2017 as compared to May 2011-April 2014.
In a RTI reply, the Government said violence involving Maoists declined from 1,048 in 2016 to 813 till November 2017.
According to Government data, the elimination of Naxal cadre rose by a sharp 65 per cent and the surrenders by the extremists recorded 185 per cent increase last year.
At the same time, certain new districts have emerged as the focus area where security forces were deployed with vigour after carrying out a review of the overall deployment of security forces.
In order to counter Maoist efforts to expand their influence in tribal areas at the tri-junction of Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, three districts of Kerala have been included in the list of SRE districts, despite the fact that there is no violence in the new districts and the move is pre-emptive.
The revised categorisation is a more realistic representation of the actual lWE scenario, the official said.
As part of the redeployment strategy, greater strength has been given in new areas by providing additional mine protected vehicles, bulletproof jackets and extensive use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and helicopters.
“There has been concerted efforts to fill up the security vacuum,” the official said.
The Central Government is also providing `1,000 crore as 100 per cent grant to 35 lWE-affected districts under the Integrated Action Plan (IAP).
The utilisation of the fund is decided by a committee headed by the District Collector and consisting of the Superintendent of Police of the District Forest Officer. The district-level committee has flexibility to spend the amount on development schemes of their choice based on the need of the district.
The committee draws up plans, which include concrete proposals for public infrastructure and services such as school buildings, anganwadi centres, primary healthcentres, drinking water supply, village roads, electric lights in public places such as PHCs and schools, etc.
An inter-ministerial meeting, held recently under the chairmanship of Home Minister Rajnath Singh, has also allowed the State Governments to give environmental clearance up to 40 hectares of forest land in lWE-hit areas for carrying out development works.