By Deepak Kumar Nayak*
On December 22, 2018, a Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) cadre was killed in an encounter between CoBRA (Commando Battalion for Resolute Action) personnel of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and the Maoists near Kolji Ghat in the Giddheshwar-Bariarpur Forest under the Khaira Police Station limits in Jamui District of Bihar. One AK-47 rifle and one self-loading rifle (SLR), along with a large number of live cartridges, were recovered from the encounter spot. The identity of the slain Maoist is yet to be ascertained.
On September 17, 2018, a Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) trooper, identified as Sikandar Yadav, was shot dead outside his home by the Maoists in Pondeythika village under Barhat Police Station limits in Jamui District. Sikandar was dragged out of his house and shot dead.
On August 13, 2018, CPI-Maoist cadres killed Chhotu Kumar (35), a street vendor by profession, slitting his throat, and threw his body strapped to two live bombs at the Chandra Mandi village under the Chandra Mandi Police Station limits in Jamui District. Chandra Mandi, Station House Officer (SHO), Hemant Kumar, and Sub-Inspector (SI), Narayan Thakur, along with four Policemen, received minor splinter injuries when one of the bombs went off while removing the body. Jamui Superintendent of Police (SP) J. Reddy disclosed, “The bomb-squad reached the site and successfully defused a live bomb wrapped on Chhotu’s body. But a second bomb went off while they were removing Chhotu’s body to send it to Jamui Sadar Hospital for post-mortem.”
According to partial data collated by the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP), at least eight fatalities, including five civilians, one trooper and two Maoists, were recorded in Jamui District in Left Wing Extremism (LWE)-linked violence in 2018 (data till December 30, 2018). Significantly, out of four Districts across Bihar from where LWE-linked fatalities have been recorded in the current year, Jamui has the dubious distinction of being the front-runner, with Gaya standing second with three fatalities (one civilian and two troopers), while Aurangabad, Lakhisarai and West Champaran recorded one such fatality each. The total number of such fatalities in such violence across Bihar in the current year stands at 14, including nine civilians, three Security Force personnel and two Maoists.
An overview of fatalities since the formation of the CPI-Maoist on September 21, 2004, shows that Jamui District has registered at least 98 Maoist-linked fatalities, including 62 civilians, 22 SF personnel, and 14 Maoists, roughly 14.24 per cent of the total of 688 fatalities, including 309 civilians, 191 SF personnel and 188Maoists, recorded in the State during this period (data till December 30, 2018). It is significant that Bihar, which was at one time the hotbed of Maoist insurgency, contributed just 8.53 per cent of total Maoist-linked fatalities across the country over the period (data till December 30, 2018). Total fatalities across India during this period was 8,062 (3,166 civilians, 1,999 SF personnel and 2,897 Maoists), with Bihar accounting for 688 (309 civilians, 191 SF personnel and 188 Maoists). In the current year, with 14 fatalities (nine civilians, three SF personnel and two Maoists), 3.38 per cent of the total of 413 fatalities (109 civilians, 73 SF personnel and 231 Maoists) across the country in 2018, the State is grappling with the remnants of the insurgency, especially in Jamui.
Out of 45 Districts across eight States from where Maoist-linked fatalities have been recorded in the current year, Jamui was the 11thworst, with eight fatalities; preceded by Sukma (Chhattisgarh) with 89; Bijapur (Chhattisgarh) with 70; Gadchiroli (Maharashtra) with 58; Dantewada (Chhattisgarh) with 34; Narayanpur and Rajnandgaon (Chhattisgarh) with 15 each; Kanker (Chhattisgarh) and Latehar (Jharkhand) with 11 each; Malkangiri (Odisha) with 10; and Palamu (Jharkhand) with nine fatalities.
Worryingly, civilians have borne the maximum brunt of LWE violence in Jamui. According to SATP data, five civilians have already been killed in the current year [data till December 30], with the August 13 incident (above) the latest such atrocity. The number of civilian fatalities in the District in 2017 totalled seven. Since the formation of CPI-Maoist, 62 civilians have been killed in the Jamui District, 20.06 per cent of the 309 civilian deaths in the State over this period.
Significantly, the District has recorded a lone SF fatality thus far in 2018. There was no SF killing through 2017. The last SF killing was reported on July 4, 2014, when a CRPF official, Hira Kumar Jha, the second-in-command of the CRPF base in Jamui, and a CPI-Maoist cadre, were killed in an exchange of fire around the Lakharia Forest region. Since the formation of the CPI-Maoist, a total of 22 SF personnel have died in Jamui District, 11.51 per cent of the 322 SF fatalities in Bihar over this period.
Since the formation of CPI-Maoist, the overall kill ratio has been favour significantly adverse for the SFs, at 1.57:1 (data till December 30, 2018). However, the ratio favours the SFs in the current year at 1:2.
The Maoists have also orchestrated a range of violent incidents in Jamui, other than killings, to make their presence felt. Since the formation of CPI-Maoist, the Jamui District has recorded at least 13 incidents of attack on railways, resulting in the killing of seven SF personnel (all data till December 30, 2018). The Maoists have also carried out at least 24 incidents of abduction in which at least 90 persons were abducted, of whom 15 were killed and others subsequently released after ‘warnings’; 11 incidents of arson targeting road construction activities; 22 incidents of explosion, which resulted in the killing of two civilians.
Jamui District, carved out from the erstwhile Munger District on February 21, 1991, covers a geographical area of 3,122.80 square kilometres, of which 21.28 per cent, around 664.53square kilometres, is under forest cover. The District shares its borders with Munger and Lakhisarai Districts towards the north, the Giridih District of Jharkhand to the south, Deoghar District of Jharkhand and Banka of Bihar towards the east, and Nawada District of Bihar to the west. All these Districts, with the exception of Deogarh in Jharkhand, are Left Wing Extremism-affected. Jamui is also listed among the 30 worst Naxal (LWE)-affected Districts, along with another three in Bihar (Aurangabad, Gaya, and Lakhisarai), identified by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (UMHA) in 2018.
According to a December 23, 2018report, Inspector General (Operations) Kundan Krishnan, who heads anti-Maoist operations in Bihar, stated,
|Maoist-hit Districts have come down to 16 from 23. Earlier, Bihar was third in Maoist violence. Now it ranks fifth in the country. Gaya, Aurangabad, Jamui and Lakhisarai are the only Districts from where Maoist violence is reported now.|
There is widespread under-development, poverty, malnutrition and illiteracy in the District. Predictably, Jamui ranks towards the bottom – 587th among the 599 Districts across India, according to the “District Development and Diversity Index Report for India and Major States,” a joint survey conducted by the US-India Policy Institute (USIPI) and the Centre for Research and Debates in Development Policy (CRDDP), New Delhi. The report of the survey, which took composite development — measured in terms of economic development and the indices of health, education and material well-being – into consideration, was released on January 29, 2015. Further, Parliament was informed on August 2, 2018, that Jamui was among 116 Districts in the country identified by NITI Aayog as ‘Aspirational Districts’, selected on the basis of a composite index which includes published data on deprivation enumerated under the Socio-Economic Caste Census, Health & Nutrition, Education and Basic Infrastructure, with the aim of promoting access, equity and quality, as well as central assistance to States. This includes assistance for the creation of one Model Degree College each in 60 Educationally Backward Districts (EBDs). Earlier, on April 2, 2018, NITI Aayog had released a list of 117 ‘Backward’ Districts across India, which includes Jamui.
In order to boost development in Jamui and other Maoist-affected Districts of the State, according to a June 20, 2018, report, the State Cabinet approved INR 12.29 billion for acquisition of land, utility shifting, environmental clearance and other work related to construction of 865 Kilometers of roads and small bridges in five Maoist hit Districts of Aurangabad, Gaya, Jamui, Banka and Muzaffarpur. Special Secretary, Cabinet Secretariat, Upendra Nath Pandey disclosed,
|The Cabinet decision on construction of roads in Maoist affected areas has been taken under the ‘road connectivity project for the left wing extremism affected areas’ as a vertical under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana [Prime Minister’s Village Roads Plan].|
Clearly, the Maoist threat lingers on in Jamui, but has seen a significant waning. Continued SF pressure, combined with sustained development initiatives, particularly in the sphere of improved connectivity, will help address the residual problem.
*Deepak Kumar Nayak
Research Assistant, Institute for Conflict Management