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Naxals spill blood despite crackdown in Chhattisgarh

Rajendra Mohanty | December 30, 2008 16:37 IST

Chhattisgarh had little respite from naxal violence in 2008 which claimed over 200 lives and forced about 50,000 people to take shelter in relief camps in the state, where elections were held under unprecedented security
in two phases.
With Naxalites [Images] making their presence felt in more than half of the 18 districts, the year saw large scale Naxal-related violence and killing. A total of 212 people, including insurgents and security personnel, were killed.
Though the figure is slightly less compared to past two years--in 2006, the casualty was 385 and 369 in 2007 -- the
situation can not be termed promising.
This year, while 63 security personnel, 14 special police officers and one secret police person laid down their lives
while combating the menace, 52 naxalites were killed. The civilian toll stood at 131.
In 2007, a high of 124 security personnel were killed, and 64 naxalites eliminated. In 2006, 39 security personnel
and 69 naxalites were killed.
Since 2000, when Chhattisgarh was carved out of Madhya Pradesh [Images], a total of 1,416 people including security-men,
naxalites and civilians were killed in naxal violence.
The gravity of the situation could well be gauged from the Election Commission conducting assembly elections in two
phases while larger states like Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh had single-phase polls.

With Naxalites calling a poll-boycott in their stronghold in southern areas, the EC went in for unprecedented security
measures. As many as 435 companies of security personnel were deployed in the first phase alone in the naxal infested areas. Yet, the Left wing extremists killed 20 security-men in four separate incidents in the run-up to the elections.
Incidents of naxal violence have increased ever since locals formed 'Salwa Judum', the anti-naxal peace movement, in 2005. As the movement started threatening existence of naxals in their strongholds, elimination of villagers on suspicion and selective killing of Judum activists went up significantly.
Terrified people left villages to escape from Naxal backlash. As a result over 50,000 people have been put up in
relief camps. Various civil society organisations have claimed that over a lakh had migrated to neighbouring Andhra Pradesh and Orissa.
Of the 1,416 people killed during last eight years, 1,146 were in the last three years since the Salwa Judum was formed.
Despite naxals gaining an upper hand in many areas, police could expose insurgents' network in the cities. Several
naxal sympathisers in Raipur, Bhilai and Bilaspur were arrested.
With the BJP retaining power and Nankiram Kanwar, best known as 'raid minister' in the last government, getting
charge of home department, significant development in the naxal front is on the card.
Kanwar told PTI that his focus would, certainly, be on dealing with the menace. He, however, was of the view that
better co-ordination among affected states and the Centre is needed to combat it more effectively.

But, Senior Congress leader Nandkumar Patel, who was home minister in the Ajit Jogi Government felt that the problem should be tackled by taking into consideration social and economical factors as well. The government should consider this as more than a law and order problem.
In food security, one of the rallying points of all Left wing groups, the government launched a scheme of subsidised
food grain to Below Poverty Line families and other economically-backward ones.
Besides, the MSP of paddy was fixed at Rs 1120-1150 per quintal by offering a bonus of Rs 220 per quintal. The efforts came at a time when the India State Hunger Index (ISHI) put state in the category of 'alarming' grade in the hunger chart.    

Launched early this year, the successful implementation of 'chief minister's food security scheme', did wonders for
the ruling party which retained power over-riding the anti-incumbency factor.
Under the scheme 35 kg of rice is provided at Rs 3/kg to about 34 lakh families. By rough estimates of government
agencies, almost 1.5 crore people are beneficiaries of the scheme in a population of 2.3 crore.
The scheme had its impact also on the exodus of people by slowing down migration to other parts of the country.
Unlike previous years, when people moved in thousands to Uttar Pradesh [Images], Punjab and Himachal Pradesh [Images] to work as
labourers in brick kilns and construction sector, year 2008 saw a climb down in the trend.

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