Two troopers of the Commando Battalion for Resolute Action (CoBRA) – Constable Gulab Yadav and Constable Narottam Das – were killed and another 12 were injured when Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) cadres blew up a mini-bus carrying personnel near Nandai on the Imamganj – Dumaria route in Gaya District on February 24, 2015. The unit also came under fire from the Maoists after the improvised explosive device (IED) blast.
According to Police sources, there was ‘heavy force mobilization’ in the area in the wake of an encounter in the vicinity a day earlier. The site of the explosion was part of an area believed to be safe, with regular traffic flows, and was not, prima facie in the ‘vulnerable’ category, which is why the COBRA unit took the liberty of travelling in a mini bus. A measure of complacency may also have crept in because of the decline in Maoist violence in the State in 2014.
According to the partial data compiled by South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP), Bihar recorded 17 fatalities in Left Wing Extremism (LWE) related incidents in 2014, including seven civilians, seven Security Force (SF) personnel and three Maoists; these numbers represented a sharp drop from the 48 fatalities in 2013, including 21 civilians, 25 SF personnel and two Maoists.
Continuing the momentum after the December 1, 2014, Kasalpar [Sukma] attack on Security Forces (SFs), in which 14 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel, including two officers, were killed, Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) cadres killed at least seven civilians in six incidents, and 10 SF personnel in nine incidents, while losing just three cadres in two incidents, as of February 25, 2015, in Chhattisgarh. Interestingly, there has not been a single major incident [resulting in a total of three or more casualties] in this period, indicating that the Maoists are going about their business steadily, without drawing much attention to themselves. Continue reading
In a spectacular strike on the security forces, cadres belonging to the CPI-Maoist ambushed a large team of police and paramilitary forces and killed 14 personnel of the CRPF in Sukma district of Chhattisgarh in December 2014. Ironically, two days before the attack, Chief Minister Raman Singh had declared that, “The day is not far when the state and Centre will together wipe out the Maoist menace and succeed in making Chhattisgarh Naxal-free.” The Sukma attack has punctured such optimistic assessments. Continue reading
Two incidents of vandalism in quick succession by suspected cadres of the Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) in Kerala have again brought the issue of the Maoists’ southern forays into the limelight. On November 18, 2014, six persons barged into the Agraharam Resort at Tirunelly in the Wayanad District of Kerala and broke the windowpanes of the resort’s office building, staff quarters and reception centre. They also damaged the furniture, computer, printer and other equipment kept in the office. They left after sticking wall-posts and posters declaring the celebration of the CPI-Maoist’s 10th anniversary and demanding land for the landless.
On November 10, the corporate office of Nitta Gelatin India Ltd (NGIL) at Panampilly Nagar in Kochi was ransacked by a group of nine masked men, causing extensive damage. The masked men, suspected to be CPI-Maoist cadres, accused the company of polluting the Chalakkudy river and neglecting local people. A press note purportedly released by the Western Ghat Zonal Committee of the CPI-Maoist in Thrissur claimed that an ‘urban action team’ under the Committee had carried out the attack. Later, the Kochi Police Commissioner disclosed, “We have recovered a letter, which has reference to Maoists. The letter has called for armed struggle and indicates that Maoists have taken claim for the attack. But, whether Maoists were actually involved in the attack could be ascertained only after the probe.” Interestingly, the incident of vandalism was captured by the CCTV camera and the footage was handed over to the Police. Continue reading
On August 20, 2014, the Union Cabinet approved the extension of mobile telephonic services to 2,199 locations affected by Left Wing Extremism (LWE) in the States of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. The project would be executed by Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL). BSNL has already installed towers at 363 of these locations.
The Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) would fund the capital expenditure and operative expenditure, net of revenue, for five years. The project implementation cost through the open tendering process is approximately INR 35.68 billion. In 2013, the Cabinet had approved just over INR 30 billion for the project. The project was delayed by more than a year, apparently, because of differences over project cost. The USOF which is administered by Department of Telecom (DoT) was created under the National Telecom Policy of 1999 to help provide telecom services at affordable prices to people in rural areas where no phone facilities are available. Continue reading
Two Indian police officers were injured over the weekend when Maoist insurgents detonated a landmine below their convoy. In an email interview, P.V. Ramana, a research fellow at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses in New Delhi, discussed the insurgency of Maoist groups, also known as Naxalites, and the Modi administration’s response.
WPR: What is the current status of the Naxalite insurgency in India?
P.V. Ramana: The Communist Party of India (Maoist) was banned in 2009 under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act of 1967. The Maoist insurgents have a presence to varying degree—intense to negligible—in 182 districts across 20 states. However, of the 182 districts where they have a presence, only 76 districts have witnessed violence. The states of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Odisha account for an overwhelming majority of the violence committed by the Maoist insurgents. Not a day passes without some act of Maoist violence reported from one part of the country or the other, given their geographic spread. Nevertheless, there has been a perceptible decline in Maoist violence over the past four years, though their pan-India influence may not have been drastically reduced. Over the past year, the Maoists have not staged any massive attack. Continue reading
The CPI-ML-Naxalbari and CPI-Maoist merger can have significant impact for the Maoist movement in the tri-junction area of Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. CPI-Maoist has been making continuous efforts towards creating a base in the area, and while they have not perpetrated any large scale violence in the area, they have been visible with an increasing frequency and there is significant evidence of their non-violent mobilisation. Violence and intimidation, however, have not been altogether lacking.
Mrinal Kanta Das Continue reading
….Among the various responses to their current crises, the Maoists have emphasised that their efforts must be focused to “preserve the subjective forces (from CC up to party cell) from enemy onslaught” and “particularly priority should be given to preservation of top level leadership forces”. After sustained leadership losses since 2007, the Maoists appear to have taken some effective measures to contain this trend. Only one Central Committee member from Assam was arrested in 2013, while Maoist fatalities through the year included no leader above the level of State committee members. However, in a major shock to the system, the high profile spokesperson of the Dandakaranya Special Zonal Committee (DKSZC) surrendered to SFs on January 8, 2014. The Maoists have also resolved to “fight back the enemy onslaught on strategic area and guerilla bases. Continue reading
In the night of February 22, 2014, around 150 heavily armed Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) cadres attacked the Amas Police Station in the Gaya District of Bihar, bringing traffic to a grinding halt on both the New Delhi and Kolkata side of the Grand Trunk Road. The exchange of fire between the Maoists and the Police continued for nearly two hours before the Maoists retreated. Though the Maoists failed to inflict any casualty on the Police side, a civilian taxi driver was killed in the crossfire.
Reports suggested that the two sides exchanged about 600 rounds of fire. On December 31, 2014, a group of nearly 50 Maoist cadres had attacked a highway construction site in Gaya District and torched construction machinery. On July 17, 2013, at least three Special Auxiliary Police (SAP) troopers and two guards of a private road construction company were killed and seven others were injured, when over 125 Maoist cadres attacked the base camp of the company at Goh in Aurangabad District.
On June 13, 2013, a group of around 200 Maoist cadres had attacked the Dhanbad-Patna Intercity Express at the Bhalui halt near Jamui District, killing three persons and injuring six passengers. Swarming attacks have become a rarity in most other Maoist-afflicted States, but their persistence in Bihar demonstrates both the capacity of the rebels in the State, and their efforts to stage a comeback there. Nine of 13 such incidents recorded in 2013 occurred in Bihar alone, with Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh accounting for two each. This comes at a time when the State had the opportunity to go after a substantially weakened Maoist network.
After securing some tentative but significant gains against the Maoists in 2011 and 2012, Bihar appears to have squandered the opportunity, with its anti-Maoist campaign losing focus. There simply cannot be any acceptable explanation for a State losing 27 Security Force personnel [Union Ministry of Home Affairs (UMHA) data] to Maoist attacks in 2013 without inflicting a single casualty on the Maoists. According UMHA data, a total of 69 persons – 42 civilians and 27 SF personnel – were killed in Bihar in Naxalite (Left Wing Extremism) violence in 2013, as against 49 persons – 34 civilians, 10 SF personnel and five extremists – were killed in 2012.
Significantly, this yields a 270 per cent Year-on-Year (YoY) escalation in SF fatalities, even as the Maoists managed to reduce their own losses to zero. Civilian killings by Maoists also increased significantly. Partial data compiled by the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP) confirms these trends. However, SATP records two Maoist fatalities in 2013, of cadres killed by the Tritiya Prastuti Committee (TPC), a breakaway faction of the CPI-Maoist, which has turned into its bitter rival.
In the first two months of 2014, the Maoists have already killed at least five civilians while two Maoists have been killed. Prima facie, the Maoist problem in Bihar appears to be worsening again. Apart from the adverse fatalities trends, the arrest and surrender data is also discouraging. 311 Maoists were arrested in 2013, as against 426 in 2012, while just three Maoists surrendered in 2013, as against 42 in 2012.
In July 2013, a commander of the Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) asserted that the fighting army of the outfit he represents has a definite edge over the security forces. He said, “Our honesty, dedication and selflessness, coupled with public support, have kept us firm and strong over the years.” Maoist literature is replete with such affirmations. While such statements are mostly rhetorical, typical of an extremist movement trying to assert moral superiority vis-a-vis its adversaries, these do contain some truths. At least in terms of attachment to an objective, the extremists are much ahead of the security forces who are merely to trying to prevent an end game. Continue reading