Maoist violence down, says Chidambaram

"Violent incidents have been reported. However, the number of incidents and the number of casualties is lower than in the corresponding period last year," Chidambaram said.

He was speaking to reporters here after a review meeting on the anti-Maoist operations in Orissa and Chhattisgarh with chief ministers of the twp states -- Naveen Patnaik and Raman Singh respectively.

Chidambaram backed his claim with facts. He said up to June 14 this year, there have been 811 incidents resulting in 270 deaths -- 190 civilians and 80 security personnel. And last year up to June 14, there were 1,025 violent incidents that left 473 people dead -- 296 civilians and 177 security forces.

He said Chhattisgarh has reported 218 incidents with 90 deaths, and Orissa has reported 84 incidents with 26 deaths.  Maoist attacks in Chhattisgarh have surged in the past few weeks. The rebels killed nine policemen in an ambush May 23 along the Chhattisgarh-Orissa border in Raipur district.

As many as 18 policemen have been killed in three attacks over three days since June 9. "Although the numbers are lower than last year, the level of violence is unacceptable.

The central government has offered its full support to the two state governments to face the challenge of Left-wing extremism through the two-pronged strategy of development and police action," he said.

He said Maoist guerrilla groups continued to target civilians and kill them after branding them as police informers. "Of the 190 civilians killed this year, 72 were branded as police informers."

Chidambaram said armed communist rebels were also targeting infrastructure and businesses.

"This year, there were 13 attacks on railway property, 18 on  telephone exchanges and towers were also attacked, four panchayat bhavans and 12 school buildings were destroyed and 82 roads and culverts were also damaged."

The home minister said 78 rebels were neutralised in 125 gunbattles between security forces and Maoists. "Besides, 883 extremists have been arrested, 243 have surrendered and 315 arms have been recovered."

Among those arrested are top leaders of the outlawed Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist).  He said an allocation of Rs.55 crore was made to each of the 60 affected districts for development under the Integrated Action Plan.

He added 18,724 works have been taken up in Chhattisgarh and 10,427 in Orissa. "Of these, 2,237 works in Chhattisgarh and 2,693 works in Orissa have been completed. The other works are in progress.”

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