In a bittersweet development, the Union Home Ministry has recorded a three-fold rise in the number of Maoists who have surrendered even as the official figures for 2016 also show a spurt in civilian casualties, mostly alleged police informers, compared to the corresponding period of the previous year. According to The Indian Express report, figures available till December 15 in 2016, 1,420 Maoists surrendered this year as compared to 570 in 2015, 670 in 2014 and 282 in 2013. Of the 202 civilians who died this year in Maoist violence, 115 were allegedly police informants who, officials said, were killed by left-wing extremists. In 2015, 156 civilians died out of which 85 were identified as “informers”.
Several reports state that the rise in the number of of Maoists surrendering can be attributed to frequent patrolling and the increasing presence of security forces in the Maoist stronghold. Observers feel ultras are fed-up with harsh forest life and hollow Maoist ideology which forced them to shun the path of violence. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has time to time said, “Violence has no future. If there is any future, it is in peace.” “Embrace humanity once, and meet the aggrieved families. You will never take that path again. You will feel that you had committed something wrong. Much more than any government or any law can change you, you will be transformed by a boy who suffered by your bullets,” he had said.
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Meanwhile, officials said that the Home Ministry has scaled up its focus in the 36 worst-affected districts of the total 106 Naxal-affected districts, most of which are in Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh. “The two-pronged theory of development and security is being pushed aggressively in these 36 districts with an aim to further bring down the scale of violence,” said a senior official. Speaking about casualties suffered by security forces, the official said, “These deaths have been a cause of grave concern… most of them were due to landmines,” the Indian Express report said.
According to a senior officer engaged in anti-Naxal operations in Telangana, “The anti-Naxal operations and arrest of key cadres have brought down the morale of Naxals. The sharp rise in the number of arrests is mainly because of operations this year and the biggest success was in Odisha where close to 24 Maoist cadres were killed by special forces.”
Earlier, Home Minister Rajnath Singh had made an offer for talks to Maoists but only if they shunned violence. “The situation of Naxal violence is under control. We have been successful in controlling the problem and will continue with that. The situation today is the best in the past 15-16 years,” Singh had said.