New Delhi: The May 1, 2019, improvised explosive device (IED) blast triggered by Maoists in Maharashtra’s Gadchiroli district was the 53rd incident of Maoist-related violence across the country this year, according to data compiled by the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP).

At least 107 persons have been killed in left-wing extremism (LWE)-linked violence across the country so far in 2019, including in Gadchiroli, where the largest attack in recent years resulted in the deaths of 15 members of a police quick response team (QRT) and a driver travelling in a private vehicle.

Over the five years to April 2019, there have been 942 Naxal/Maoist attacks.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has claimed that no major bomb blasts have taken place during the tenure of his National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government, but SATP data show 942 Naxal attacks in India between January 1, 2014, and April 11, 2019, as FactChecker reported on April 15, 2019. These attacks have left 451 people dead and 1,589 injured.

Nevertheless, these numbers are lower than during the previous United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, as IndiaSpend reported on April 27, 2019. There were 1,415 LWE-linked violent incidents in 2013; 1,136 in 2012; 1,760 in 2011 and 2,213 in 2010.

The 2010 figure was the highest ever recorded since the formation of the Communist Party of India (Maoist) on September 21, 2004, according to SATP.

Under the current NDA government, there were 833 LWE-linked incidents in 2018; 908 in 2017; 1,048 in 2016; and 1,089 in 2015, as per data submitted in parliament by the central home affairs ministry in December 2018.

The security forces achieved a better ‘kill ratio’--the number of personnel killed as against the number of Naxalites killed--in 2018 (more than three Naxalites killed for each security personnel death) than in 2017 (fewer than two Naxalites for one security personnel), as per home ministry data submitted in parliament in February 2019.

On October 7, 2018, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh had said left-wing extremism would be eliminated within 2-3 years. In 2015, the government had launched a ‘National Policy and Action Plan’ for the security and development of Naxal/Maoist-affected areas and their populations, and for improving security forces’ training and equipment.

The NDA government had claimed that squeezing the funding for Naxal and other terrorist groups was one of the main motivations for demonetisation in November 2016. Union Minister for Law and Justice as well as Electronics and Information Technology, Ravi Shankar Prasad, had tweeted that demonetisation had “broken the back of terrorists and Naxalites”.

Singh’s predecessor, former home minister P. Chidambaram, had similarly claimed in 2010 that left-wing extremism would be crushed within three years.

Yet, under successive governments over 20 years to 2017, Naxal/Maoist violence claimed more than 12,000 lives, including of 2,700 security forces personnel, Business Standard reported on July 9, 2017.

Naxalites/Maoists control pockets in 68 districts in 10 states, though nearly 90% of their activity is limited to 35 districts, as per the home ministry.

(Sharma is an intern with IndiaSpend.)

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