Bihar Assessment - 2012
The Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) sent a hand-written letter each to the offices of Araria District Magistrate Saravanan M. and Superintendent of Police (SP) Shivdeep Lande, seeking the unconditional release of the rebels lodged in Araria Jail. The letters were signed by Krishna Yadav, who identified himself as an ‘area commander’ of the CPI-Maoist. Sources indicated that the letters, received on December 21, 2011, by Shivdeep Lande, and on December 22, 2011 by Saravanan M., were sent from Khagaria District. On December 22, the Araria SP disclosed that about 600 prisoners were lodged in the Araria Jail, but could not confirm the number of Maoists among them.
Earlier, on December 9, 2011, the Maoists abducted seven labourers from two different construction sites at Pakari village in Jamui District. The Maoists took the labourers into the Garhi Forest area, as the construction firm for which they were working had failed to meet their demands for money. Prior to this incident, Vinay Singh alias Manan Singh, the husband of the Dharfari sarpanch (head of village level local self-Government institution) Kamini Singh, was shot dead by a group of about 30 Maoists, who attacked the village under the Paroo block in Muzaffarpur District, to enforce the Bharat Bandh (All India shutdown) called by the CPI-Maoist on December 4, 2011. On the same day, heavily armed Maoists attacked a Commando Battalion for Resolute Action (CoBRA) battalion camp under Dumaria Police Station in Gaya District, though no casualties were reported from either side. Elsewhere in the State, a large number of Maoists stormed Suhi village under the Kutumba Police Station in Aurangabad District and set fire to the mobile tower of private mobile operator Airtel. A day earlier, on December 3, about 30 to 40 armed Maoists had raided Chain village in Jamui District and demolished another mobile tower using explosives.
These recent incidents are part of a sustained campaign. According to partial data collected by the South Asian Terrorism Portal (SATP), a total of 216 Maoist-related incidents have been recorded across 24 of 38 Districts in the State in 2011 (all data till December 25, 2011). In 2010, 26 Districts witnessed as many as 200 such incidents.
While the number of incidents has increased, the number of fatalities as well as incidents involving death, decreased, as did the number of Districts from where fatalities have been reported. SATP data recorded as many as 53 fatalities, comprising of 32 civilians, 19 militants and three Security Force (SF) personnel in 36 incidents of killing in nine Districts, as against 98 fatalities, including 54 civilians, 24 SF personnel and 20 militants, in 2010, in 40 incidents of killing reported from 12 Districts.
Fatalities in Left Wing Extremism in Bihar: 2005-2011
Source: SATP, *Data till December 25, 2011
District wise fatalities in Left Wing Extremism in Bihar: 2011*
Source: SATP, *Data till December 25, 2011
District wise fatalities in Left Wing Extremism in Bihar: 2010*
Source: SATP, *Data till December 31, 2011
**LWEs: Left Wing Extremists
Significantly, the State recorded just four major incidents (involving three or more fatalities) of Maoist-related violence through 2011, as against five in 2010. The major incidents in 2011 included:
July 30, 2011: CPI-Maoist cadres shot dead three villagers belonging to the Kharwar tribe at Banda village under the Nauhatta Police Station in Rohtas District. The bodies of the victims were recovered on July 31.
July 1, 2011: Nearly 50 armed CPI-Maoist cadres stormed Bangalwa Kareli village in Munger District, killed six people and abducted seven others. The abducted persons were released a day later.
March 13, 2011: Six CPI-Maoist cadres were killed and one Special Auxiliary Police (SAP) trooper was injured in an encounter between the SFs and the Maoists in Dharmaha village under the Kalyanpur Police Station in East Champaran District.
February 26, 2011: Six CPI-Maoist cadres were reportedly killed by the SFs during an encounter that lasted over five hours in Majidih village in Banka District.
The State also recorded at least 28 incidents of explosion in 2011, as against 23 in 2010. 18 incidents of abduction were reported in 2011 as against 14 in 2010. Similarly, reported incidents of extortion increased from three to five [significant under-reportage of abduction and extortion incidents is likely]. 24 incidents of Maoists targeting economic assets were reported in 2010, increasing to 32 in 2011 according to SATP data. According to a Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) release, Details of Incidents of Damage to Economic Infrastructure, however, 38 incidents of Maoists targeting economic assets were reported in 2011, as against 41 in 2010, 59 in 2009 and 25 in 2008.
An index of the pervasive fear inflicted by the Maoists was provided by a shocking incident on April 13, 2011, when all 682 candidates for various posts in the panchayat polls, which were to be conducted on April 20 in nine panchayats (village level local self-Government institution) under the Dumaria Block in Gaya District, withdrew their nominations, apparently giving in to the Maoists call for a poll boycott. Further, the Maoists organised Kangaroo courts (“people’s court”) on at least three instances, brutally assaulting people alleged to be Police informers or for other ‘crimes’.
SFs operations have continued fitfully in the State. According to Bihar Police data, by December 18, 2011, the Government had arrested 202 LWE as against 199 such arrests in 2010 and 161 in 2009. In the most successful of these operations, on June 12, 2011, the SFs arrested Jagdish Yadav alias Jagdish Master alias Akhileshji alias Prabhatji, a top CPI-Maoist politburo member, in Gaya District. Earlier, on April 29, 2011, three Central Committee members, identified as Varanasi Subramanyam alias Shrikant alias Sukant alias Vimal (58), Secretary of the North Regional Bureau; Pulendu Shekhar Mukherjee alias Jhantu Mukherjee alias Saheb Da alias Joyda (69), Secretary of the Eastern Regional Bureau; and Vijay Kumar Arya alias Jaspalji alias Amar (50), all-India in-charge of the Sub-Committee of Mass Organisation (SUCOMO); were arrested along with Abhimanyu alias Umesh Yadav alias Rajendra (47), ‘secretary’ of the Uttar Bihar-Uttar Pradesh-Uttarakhand Regional Bureau (also known as “3-Us Regional Bureau”); Nokhe Lal Chowdhary alias Suraj alias Bakraf (30), a North Bihar Eastern Zonal Committee (NBEZC) member; Shyamji Rishi, another member of NBEZC. Other prominent arrestees through 2011 include, Yogi Singh, ‘secretary’, North Bihar Central Zone, from Khagarai District on March 8; Baidyanath Tiwari alias Tula Nand Tiwari alias Binod Mahto alias Sameerji alias Bhagwan Dada, ‘secretary’ of the Bihar Jharkhand Special Area Committee (BJSAC), from Banka District on April 14; and Avinash, spokesperson for the east Bihar and north Jharkhand Zonal Committee, also from Banka District on July 1.
The SFs also seized arms and ammunition on at least 34 occasions in 2011, as against 29 in 2010. In the most recent of such incidents, the Police neutralised an illegal arms and ammunition factory on December 17, 2011, which was operating from a rented house in the Kanholi area under Mithanpura Police Station in Muzaffarpur District. The Police team recovered a stock of 900 cartridges and equipment that the Maoists used to make pistols and other firearms. Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP, Muzaffarpur) Rajesh Kumar said the cartridges made at the arms factory were being supplied to CPI-Maoist cadres operating in north Bihar Districts.
Clearly, not much has changed in the State in terms of Maoist violence in comparison to the preceding year, and fighting capabilities and political will to fight the menace remains elusive. The State still records the lowest number of Policemen (64) per 100,000 population among all States in the Country, less than half the national average of 133 (which itself is far from satisfactory according to international standard). Meanwhile, Chief Minister (CM) Nitish Kumar on February 1, 2011, promised to recruit 45,000 constables and 9,500 sub-inspectors over next five years. He disclosed that 12,000 constables had been recruited recently and that the State had also been provided with 23 companies of Central Paramilitary Forces (CPMFs). The lack of political will is also quite evident for all, with the Chief Minister repeatedly emphasising ‘talk' with the Maoists over an operational response. While the Nitish Kumar Government’s performance has been hailed on a wide range of other administrative parameters, coherence in its response to the Maoists remains beyond its reach.