India: Enduring Risks In Madhya Pradesh – Analysis


By Deepak Kumar Nayak

On March 11, 2024, responding to concerns raised over the presence of Naxalites (Left Wing Extremists) in certain pockets of the Kanha Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh, State Chief Minister Mohan Yadav placed emphasis on empowering the forest staff to effectively address any threat from the Naxalites. In this regard, discussions were held on many proposals, including installing 4G mobile tower in Supkar village located in the core area of Kanha Tiger Reserve and at Patwa forest village. The Chief Minister was speaking at the 25th State Wildlife Board meeting.

Meanwhile, reversing the trend of increasing overall fatalities on year on year basis established since 2019, barring 2020, when it remained at the same level as in 2019,  according to partial data collated by the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP), the State recorded five fatalities, including one civilian and four Maoists in 2023 in Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist)-linked violence, as compared to a total of eight fatalities, including two civilians, and six Maoists in 2022. There was just one fatality in 2018; four each in 2019 and 2020; and five in 2021. No fatality has been recorded in the current year thus far (data till March 31, 2024). Incidents of killing also decreased from five in 2022 to four in 2023. 

The last fatality in the Security Forces (SFs) category was reported on September 22, 2010, when the Maoists killed a trooper of the Hawk Force (special anti-Naxalite force of Madhya Pradesh Police) near Sitapala village in Balaghat District.

Meanwhile, SFs arrested two Maoists in 2023. No Maoist was arrested in 2022. However, four Maoists were arrested in 2021. A total of 73 Naxaliteshave been arrested in the State since March 6, 2000, when SATP started compiling data on Naxal [Left Wing Extremism, LWE)-linked violence in the country. Further, at least five incidents of arms recovery were reported in 2023, as against three such incidents in 2022. Since March 6, 2000, at least 31 such incidents have been recorded in the State. 

Though no Maoist surrendered in 2023, as well as in 2022, at least 15 Maoists have reportedly surrendered in the State since March 6, 2000 – seven in 2000, seven in 2004 and one in 2013. 

On August 22, 2023, the Madhya Pradesh cabinet approved the state’s first Maoist Surrender, Rehabilitation-cum-Relief Policy, 2023, to reintegrate voluntarily surrendered Maoists into mainstream society and extend support to families affected by the repercussions of LWE. Under the policy, the surrendered Maoists will get INR 500,000 or the money equivalent of the reward for their arrest, whichever is higher. If they are unmarried, they will be given INR 50,000 each for the wedding. They will also be given INR 150,000 each to build their house. If a Maoist surrenders with a weapon, he or she will be given an additional incentive ranging from INR 10,000 to INR 40,000. They will also be eligible to get INR 150,000 for professional training to start a business. Furthermore, families of surrendered Maoists will have access to benefits under the Ayushman Bharat Yojana and Food Assistance Scheme. A surrendered Maoist who helps in the elimination of another Maoist would be recommended for the post of constable in the Police department. 

No incident of arson was reported in 2023, as against one incident in 2022. The State recorded a total of 10 such incidents since March 6, 2000, the last of which was reported on May 22, 2022, when more than 350 bags of tendu (Diospyros Melonoxylon plant) leaves collected by the tribals were set on fire by the cadres of the New Democratic Revolution Zindabad (NDRZ) of the CPI-Maoist at the Dadekasa-Bilal Kasa tendu leaves collection centre under the South Forest Division of the Lanji Tehsil (revenue unit) in Balaghat District. Similarly, no incident of explosion was recorded in 2023. Since March 6, 2000, the Naxalites have triggered just one blast in the State, on December 11, 2001, when cadres of the erstwhile People’s War Group (PWG) blew up the government guest- house at Samnapur in Balaghat District. 

Significantly, all the fatalities in 2023 were recorded from just one District, Balaghat. Similarly, the fatality in 2022 was recorded from Balaghat as well. Out of total 37 fatalities recorded in the state since March 6, 2000, 32 occurred in Balaghat (12 civilians, three Security Force, SF, personnel and 17 Naxalites). The remaining five fatalities were reported from Mandla (two Naxalites), Konta (two civilians) and Jagdalpur (one trooper). Fatalities in Konta and Jagdalpur were reported before November 1, 2000, when these two districts became part of the Chhattisgarh. Chhattisgarh was carved out of Madhya Pradesh on November 1, 2000. 

In 2023, Maoist activities were reported from two Districts, Balaghat and Sidhi. While, Balaghat fell in the ‘moderately affected’ category, Sidhi was in the ‘marginally affected’ category. In 2022, Maoist activities were reported from the Balaghat District alone, and it fell in the ‘moderately affected’ category. 

Though 2023 data indicates that the security situation in the State with regard to Maoist violence improved marginally, as compared to 2022, it is to be noted here that out of total 37 fatalities recorded in the state since March 6, 2000, 27 fatalities have been reported between 2018 and 2023. The level of violence over the past several years, as compared to earlier years is, therefore, disturbing.    

The Madhya Pradesh Police continues to face critical shortages in capacities and deployment. According to the latest Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPR&D) data, as on January 1, 2022, Madhya Pradesh had 121.76 Police personnel per 100,000 population, significantly below the inadequate national average of 152.80. The Police/Area Ratio (number of policemen per 100 square kilometres) was just 33.62, as against the national average of 63.70. Both the State and national averages on the Police/Area ratio were well below the sanctioned strength, at 40.65 and 81.80, respectively. The sanctioned strength for the States’ Police was 125,319, while just 103,642 personnel were in position, creating a deficit of 17.29 per cent. In addition, the sanctioned strength of the apex Indian Police Service (IPS) Officers in the State was 305, but just 247 officers were in position, a deficit of 19.01 per cent. 

The Maoists’ enduring operational capacities cannot simply be overlooked. The existing lacunae in state capacities and deployment need to be addressed with urgency, and crucial security and developmental efforts must be amplified, to ensure that SF gains are consolidated.

  • Deepak Kumar Nayak
    Research Associate, Institute for Conflict Management

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