India: Disruptive Spike In Chhattisgarh – Analysis


By Deepak Kumar Nayak

On December 11, 2023, two Security Force (SF) personnel were injured when an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) planted by Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) cadres exploded where a joint team of Security Force (SF) personnel was patrolling to provide security to road construction work, at Saltong village under the Kistaram Police Station area of Sukma District. 

On November 22, 2023, one District Reserve Guard (DRG) trooper, Roshan Nag, inadvertently stepped on an IED connection planted by Maoists, triggering the explosion that injured him, during an anti-Naxal [Left Wing Extremism, LWE] operation near Bainpalli village under Jagargunda Police Station limits in Sukma District. 

On November 7, 2023, a commando of the Commando Battalion for Resolute Action (CoBRA), an elite unit of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), was injured in an IED blast triggered by CPI-Maoist cadres in Sukma District, as polling for the first phase of State Assembly elections got underway in the region. The incident occurred when the team was out on an area domination operation from the Tondamarka Camp towards Elmagunda village, to ensure security during polls. 

According to partial data collated by the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP), at least five SF personnel have been injured in four separate incidents of explosion triggered by the Maoists in Sukma District since the beginning of 2023 (data till December 17). During the corresponding period in 2022, three SF personnel were injured in the district in two such incidents, and there were no more such incidents in the remaining period of the year.

Since the creation of the district on January 16, 2012, a total of 44 fatalities and 111 persons injured, have been registered in the SF category in 65 incidents of explosion in Sukma (data till December 17, 2023). A maximum of 18 fatalities and 25 persons injured in three such incidents, was reported in 2020. 

Other parameters of violence also demonstrate the Maoists’ increased efforts to recover lost ground in the district. 

A total of 699 Maoist-linked incidents have been recorded in the district since its formation, with a maximum number in 2016 (100) and the minimum in 2013 (23). This includes 64 incidents in the current year, as compared to 46 in 2022 (till December 17). The Maoists have executed 27 incidents of arson since the formation of the district, the maximum number in 2018 (eight) and the minimum in 2013 (one), while two incidents have been recorded in the current year. The Maoists also carried out 13 incidents of abduction, the maximum number in 2016 (five) and the minimum in 2014 and 2022 (one), while four incidents have already been recorded in the current year.

Maoist violence against civilians in Sukma also persists. According to SATP data, seven civilians have already been killed in the current year [data till December 17]. There were three civilian fatalities in the district during the corresponding period of 2022, and no more fatalities in this category thereafter, in the year. The district recorded a maximum of 33 civilian fatalities in 2013.

At least six Maoists have been killed in Sukma District since the beginning of 2023 (data till December 17). During the corresponding period in 2022, six Maoists had been killed in the district, and there were no more fatalities in this category in 2022. 

On the other hand, SFs have lost three of their personnel in the current year so far (data till December 17), as against two in the corresponding period of 2022, and there were no more fatalities in this category thereafter in the remaining period of the year. SFs lost 42 personnel, the highest recorded in this category in the district for any year, in 2014 as well as in 2017.

In the fight between SFs and Maoists, the overall kill ratio (1:1.15) has been marginally in favour of SFs (193 SF personnel, 223 Maoists killed) since January 16, 2012. However, the kill ratio was in favour of the Maoists in 2012 (3:1), 2014 (3.23:1), 2015 (1.18:1), 2017 (3.5:1) and 2021 (1.73:1). Significantly, after reaching a peak of 42 SF fatalities in 2017 (as well as in 2014 at the same number), the fatalities came down to two in 2022. For the first time no fatality was recorded in the SF category in 2019. In the current year SFs lost three personnel, thus far (data till December 17, 2023).

According to a December 13, 2023, report, the CPI-Maoists organised a large-scale celebration on the Bijapur-Sukma border in Chhattisgarh, marking ‘People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army (PLGA) Week’. A video was released by the Maoists to the media regarding the celebration, which showed a large number of armed Maoists participating in the celebration, along with the villagers. Men and women, including a large group of Naxalites, were seen gathering in the border area of Bijapur and Sukma districts in Dandakaranya, taking out a rally, singing songs, and shouting slogans. 

Sukma, spread over a geographical area of 5635.79 square kilometres, of which around 3,500 square kilometres (more than 75 per cent of its total area) is under forest cover, offers the Maoists distinct tactical advantages, allowing them to establish disruptive dominance over this difficult terrain. In addition, the district shares its borders with other Maoist-affected districts of the infamous ‘Bastar Division’  within the State – Bastar, Bijapur and Dantewada – to the north and west. Moreover, the Malkangiri District of Odisha to the east; and the Khammam District of Telangana to the South, are both Maoist affected, making Sukma a daunting challenge for SFs.

According to a March 6, 2023, report, under their social responsibility programmes, intended to prevent the youth from joining Maoist ranks, Police have established a school ‘Police Ki Pathshala’ in Sukma, where they teach students in their free time, to ensure basic education facilities for children in the conflict-hit area. Speaking on the effort, the then Sukma Superintendent of Police (SP), Sunil Sharma, disclosed,

A new camp was established near the State Highway-5 at Dabbamarka, which is a core Naxal area in the district, on February 12. With the inspiration of the camp’s TI Bhavesh Shinde and other TI Shailendra Nag, the ‘Police Ki Pathshala’ has been set up in the camp for children in the area… It is our endeavour to educate as many children as possible so that this area can be made free from Naxalism. 

Further, according to an October 23, 2023, report, 342 families from seven remote villages – Dabbakonta, Pidmel, Ekalguda, Duramangu, Tumbangu, Singanpad, and Dokpad – were electrified through the conventional source of power supply in Sukma District, nearly 25 years after their homes plunged into darkness because of damage to infrastructure by the Naxalites. On the development, Sukma SP Kiran Gangaram Chavan stated,

Two decades ago, Naxals destroyed the existing electricity supply network, cut wires, and broke poles, forcing villagers to live in darkness away from development. The villagers are happy now and expressed that their children will now study and will be connected to the entire world with television and mobile 

Though SFs consolidation in Sukma in particular, the state at large, as well as in the rest of the erstwhile Maoist-infested areas of the country is astounding, the increase in Maoist activities in the district in the current year, is cause for some concern. Indeed, Sukma is one of the last surviving Maoist bastions in the country, with substantial CPI-Maoist operational strength concentrated here. Continued operational pressure by the SFs, augmented by an intensive focus on development and administrative outreach, is still needed for further consolidation of the state control, and to neutralize the remaining threat to Sukma and Chhattisgarh.

  • Deepak Kumar Nayak
    Research Associate, Institute for Conflict Management


SATP, or the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP) publishes the South Asia Intelligence Review, and is a product of The Institute for Conflict Management, a non-Profit Society set up in 1997 in New Delhi, and which is committed to the continuous evaluation and resolution of problems of internal security in South Asia. The Institute was set up on the initiative of, and is presently headed by, its President, Mr. K.P.S. Gill, IPS (Retd).

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