The US State Department’s ‘Country Report on Terrorism 2018’ termed the banned CPI (Maoist) outfit as the “sixth deadliest terror groups in the world”. And if we reinterpret that report for India, the Maoist red terror is the worst kind of insurgency we are facing. The report placed the CPI (Maoist) after global terror outfits like Taliban, ISIS, Africa’s based Al- Shabaab and Boko Haram and the Communist Party of Philippines.
And numbers tell they are, in fact the bigger terror menace than the Pakistan sponsored and supported terrorism in J&K.
If we compare fatalities in the Maoist or Naxal violence vis-à-vis terrorist attacks in J&K, running high on terrorist massacre that started in 1988, J&K has seen more casualties, according to the official data posted on SATP, a terrorism database website.
As per the website, Maoists killed 2,799 security forces personnel in the period between 1999 and 2019 or an average annual killing of 132 security forces personnel. Security forces, hitting back, have killed 168 Maoists on an average each year in the same period. But unlike J&K, civilians here are the biggest casualty. The Left-wing violence kills on an average 387 persons yeas as the information shared by the government says.
On the other hand, terrorist violence in J&K has killed over 6,400 security forces personnel and 14,930 civilians. When we compare the average year wise data on insurgents killing security forces in Maoist violence to the terrorists killing Indian Army and other paramilitary forces and police personnel in J&K, we find more security forces personnel have been martyred in J&K.
But that changed post 2005, when Maoist violence saw Chhattisgarh becoming its epicentre. Fatalities both in the Left-Wing Extremism (LWE) and J&K terrorist violence have come down over the years but while J&K has seen almost a rapid decline, LWE, in fact, is killing more security forces personnel now.
The fatality data for civilians and security force personnel have been under been under 100 fatality mark since 2008 in J&K but Maoist violence still kills hundreds of civilians and security forces personnel every year.
The 12 years since 2008 to 2019 saw 721 security forces personnel martyred. That comes to on an average 60 security forces personnel martyred each year while, at the same time, they killed almost three times the number of terrorists, and at the same time, were also able to reduce the civilian fatality by 13 times, from 465 civilians, on an average being killed every year when we compare the data set from 1988 to 2019 to 35 when we see the data set between 2008 to 2019.
A point to note here is the reduction in Maoists’ fatality number when we compare the overall data and data set 2008 onwards. As per overall data, security force personnel were able to eliminate 168 Maoist insurgents on an average each year but the data set since 2008 onwards shows it has now reduced to killing of 145 Maoist insurgents.
Maoist insurgents, in fact, are killing more security forces personnel now as the data in the table shows, twice more than the security forces personnel martyred in J&K each year.
But the biggest point here to worry is about the civilian fatality numbers — whether we see the overall data or a data point in reference from 2008. They have been the worst affected victims of this ‘red corridor’ of terror. It also shows why Maoists are said to run a parallel world in the areas they dominate, especially in the tickly covered and tribal dominated forests of Chhattisgarh which became the epicentre of the Maoist violence after these insurgents were eliminated from Andhra Pradesh in around 2005.
Maoist insurgents dominate hilly terrain and thick forest covers, especially in tribal dominated areas in Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand, the two worst LWE affected states to the extent that they can launch well planned ambush operations, something that we again saw on Saturday when around 400 Maoists insurgents surrounded and killed 23 security forces personnel.
The Maoist attack happened in an area, in Bijapur-Sukma region in south Bastar. Bijapur shares its borders with Maharashtra and Telangana, giving Maoists a safe passage when they launch an attack or face intensifying combing operation by the security forces and the dreaded Maoist Madvi Hidma alias Hidmanna heads a naxal battalion in that region.