Slow process of recruitment and lack of competent officers and modern surveillance equipments have led to the limited success in anti-Naxal operations in Bihar during 2007.
The state witnessed 87 Naxal-related incidents between July and December, as against 63 during the corresponding period in 2006, according to official figures made available by the state police headquarters in Patna.
Bihar, which is one of the worst Naxal-infested states along with Jharkhand and Chttisgarh, has the lowest police-people ratio at 0.6 and there is a vacancy of over 19,000 in the police department, the sources said.
Inspector-General (Operations) S K Bhardwaj, however, claimed that the Naxalites' effort to strengthen their organisation in north Bihar had received a severe jolt in 2007 with the arrest of several top-ranking leaders of the Communist Party of India-Maoist.
Altogether, 55 self-styled zonal and area commanders of the outlawed outfit had been arrested and a large quantity of explosives, firearms and ammunition seized from their hideouts in the past six months.
The arrest of senior Naxal leader Lal Babu Sahni alias Bhaskar in Patna recently along with the seizure of high quality explosive devices and other materials was a major success for the police, official sources said.
The police also seized 500 kg of explosives, allegedly brought from Andhra Pradesh, from a village believed to be a Maoist stronghold in the Naxal-infested Gaya district, the sources said.
In 2007, 23 policemen were killed in encounters with Naxals, who lost 12 of their men, the sources said.
Eight policemen were killed in Rohtas district, which accounted for the maximum number, followed by four in Lakhisarai, three in East Champaran, two in Bhagalpur and one each in five other districts.
The police, in its turn, killed seven Naxals in Gaya, three in West Champaran and two in Rohtas.
Sources said 39 people lost their lives in about 171 incidents of Naxal-related violence in 29 out of 38 districts of the state during 2007. The Naxals also looted 37 weapons in their attacks on police stations and outposts.
The police arrested 553 Naxalites, including front ranking leaders Tusharkant Bhattacharya, Ajay Kanu, Yogesh Yadav and Babulal Shahni.
They also seized 160 firearms from the possession of the arrested Naxals. These included SLRs and stenguns, besides 2,916 detonators, 35 can bombs, 4,800 cartridges, 2and ,476 kg of explosive materials during the year.
A senior police official said that the slow recruitment process had severely affected intelligence operations, with special branches facing acute shortage of manpower. He added that the police was bereft of competent officers and modern surveillance equipments despite reminders from the Union home ministry to strengthen all of these.
Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has called for a comprehensive, pan-Indian response to the Naxal menace and opposed any move for arming a central agency with concurrent jurisdiction that would enable it to investigate in select terrorism-related cases that might have inter-state and external ramifications.