Naxal violence on the wane!

The Centre claims that the geographical spread of Left-Wing Extremists has been contained due to its flagship welfare schemes, writes MY Siddiqui

Naxal, renamed Left-Wing Extremist (LWE), violence is on the wane. As claimed by the NDA Union Government in the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), steadfast implementation of National Policy and Action Plan for development of LWE affected areas and their containment has resulted in consistent decline in LWE violence. Overall decline is 38 per cent during the last five years since 2015. This is despite the fact that the Union Government is trying its best to deprive and dispossess the tribal of their inherent right to forest, land and water for mineral exploration, infrastructural development and industrialization by private corporates.

According to official data, number of LWEs killed in 2015 was 1,089 followed by 1,048 in 2016, 908 in 2017, 833 in 2018 and 607 in 2019. Similarly, deployment of large, mini and micro Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) for anti-LWE operations, has resulted in downward trends in number of security forces killed in LWE violence. Number of security forces killed has come down from 317 in 2009 to 52 in 2019. Security forces killed were 56 in 2015, 65 in 2016, 75 in 2017, 67 in 2018 and 52 in 2019. LWEs killed were 89 in 2015, 222 in 2016, 136 in 2017, 225 in 2018 and 145 in 2019.

A comprehensive review of overall development programmes with Chief Ministers of LWE affected States and Union Ministers of Finance, Road Transport and Highways, Rural Development, Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, Communications and Information Technology was taken up by the Union Minister of Home Affairs on August 26, 2019. National Policy and Action Plan-2015 was reviewed threadbare. The Central Government assured full support to States and Union Territories to contain LWE violence.

There have, however, been demands for withdrawal of Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) from LWE affected areas across the country. According to the MHA, the Government is opposed to that. Instead, CAPFs are re-deployed from one LWE affected area to the other depending on intensity of LWEs violence, said a source in the Government. It is stated by the MHA that police and public order are State subject in the Constitution of India, the Central Government, therefore, assists the States and Union Territories in fighting LWEs violence with security deployment, while ensuring rights of local communities.

Other measures that the Centre takes include assisting States by deployment of CAPF Battalions, helicopters, India Reserve Force Battalions, Special India Reserve Battalions and other combat logistics. Funds provided for are Modernisation of Police Force Scheme, Security related expenditure Scheme, Special Infrastructure for modernization and training of state police.

As per the MHA, with the flagship schemes like development of roads, installation of mobile towers, skill development, expanding network of banks, post offices, enhancing health and educational facilities, geographical spread of LWEs has been contained. Presently, LWEs are spread over 118 districts in the country.

Claims of the Government that geographical spread of LWE activities has been contained, is hereby demolished by the fact that that the armed rebellion against the state erupted first in a village Naxalbari in West Bengal in 1967, which has since evolved and spanned across the country. Decline in LWE violence and casualty of civilians and security forces cannot be judged by its periodic rise and fall. It is continuing with its hits and runs like guerilla warfare which cannot be construed to have contained its geographical spread!