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NEW DELHI: A redrawn counter-insurgency strategy, backed by real-time intelligence through use of modern technology like drones and involving coordinated day and night operations by security personnel, to target Maoists deep inside the jungles has brought down the number of districts afflicted by left-wing extremist violence to 58.
Latest data compiled by CRPF shows that the number of districts under the grip of Maoist vioelnce has dropped significantly since 2015, with over 90% of attacks being reported from only four states — Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Odisha.
While 75 districts across nine states reported violent attacks by Naxals in 2015, the number came down to 67 in 2016 and dropped to 58 in 2017, touted as the best year for the security forces engaged in anti-Maoist operations.
Officials attributed the success to the revamped strategy to target senior Maoist leaders and their informers with enhanced and precise intelligence. Officials said there are more joint operations by the CRPF, the IAF, the BSF, the ITBP and state forces. Along with the operations, the administration is speeding up development work, including installation of mobile phone towers and construction of roads, besides setting up police stations in remote villages.
CRPF director general Rajeev Rai Bhatnagar told TOI, “The past year, we have hit the Naxals in their den. Our coordination with state police, intelligence agencies and armed forces has been exceptional. The focus has been on leaders, over ground operatives and sympathisers. The Naxals are not able to move arms, funds and their senior leaders from one place to another.”
He said the influence of Naxals is now restricted to only three pockets — Bastar-Sukma (having an area of around 1200 sq km), AOB (Andhra-Odisha Border — 2,000 sq km) and Abujmaad forest area (4,500 sq km). “There is a security vacuum and administration has not been able to completely access these areas,” Bhatnagar said.
In terms of operations, with over 150 cadres of CPI (Maoist) killed, 2017 was one of the most successful years for the security forces. The anti-Naxal strategy was revamped after home minister Rajnath Singh met CMs of Naxal-affected states in May last year following the killing of 25 CRPF men in Sukma. Singh has said that Naxal violence has come down by 60%.
In an internal policy document of Naxals — ‘Action Plan 2017-2022’ — recovered by agencies recently, Maoists themselves admit that 140 of their comrades, including 30 women, were killed by security forces in 2017. The document, accessed by TOI, says many of its important leaders were also killed by the forces.