Maoist insurgency now confined to 10 Bihar districts


PATNA: In December 2021, the Centre declared Bihar’s Muzaffarpur, Vaishali, Arwal, Jehanabad, Nalanda, and East Champaran districts as Left-Wing Extremism (LWE)-free districts. Patna, Sitamarhi, Bhojpur, Bagaha, Begusarai, Khagaria, and Sheohar were earlier removed from the list of LWE-affected districts. The Maoist insurgency is now limited to 10 districts of Rohtas, Kaimur, Gaya, Nawada, Jamui, Lakhisarai, Aurangabad, Banka, Munger, and West Champaran.

The Bihar Police have claimed to have choked weapons supply to Maoists through a crackdown that has led to a drastic reduction in the strength of the insurgency. Additional director general Sushil Mansingh Khopde counted the busting of an illegal arms factory, which was a major source of weapons for the insurgents, in Nawada among their major successes. “…similar operations…have helped in bringing down the number of Left-wing extremists to not more than 80.”

Aapki Sarkar Aapke Dwar (government at doorsteps) scheme, which was started in 2006 from Jehanabad’s Sikaria village to provide essential services in villages, has been cited among the reasons for a decrease in Maoist activity even as sporadic incidents of violence have been reported. Maoists killed four members of a family in November after branding them police informers in the Gaya district.

Special secretary (home department) Vikas Vaibhav said the development has helped in the reduction of the Maoist activities. “Increased road connectivity, medical facilities, schools, development through special central assistance scheme…have played a role in containing their activities.”

He said over 1,332 km of roads have been completed as part of a connectivity project for the LWE-affected areas. “….9,650 primary schools have been opened and 10,835 have been upgraded…4319 panchayats have high schools as well,” said Vaibhav. He added three residential schools are planned to come up in Jhajha, Belatandi, and Adhaura.

Khopde said the police presence has also been strengthened and Maoist-affected areas now have 45 police stations. “This has also instilled a sense of confidence among the villagers.” He added in 2021, Maoists tried to recruit people taking advantage of unemployment during the pandemic but constant pressure helped bring back the recruits. “There are certain areas in the state where overground workers (OGW) of Maoists are still active, and in some cases, they provide logistical support…We are keeping a close watch on them.”

The number of Maoist-insurgency related incidents came down from 71 in 2017 to 16 in 2021 and the civilian killings from 17 to eight. Gunbattles have dipped from 10 to five during the same period.

Chakarbandha, a hilly village 76 km from Gaya, has been among the villages that have benefitted as part of infrastructure development to tackle the Maoist insurgency. It now takes 15 minutes to drive to the village from Imamganj, the block headquarters, compared to two hours a decade back. The connectivity has provided residents access to better medical facilities and ensured security in the form of a police station.

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