Bihar: Halted Menace

A decline in other violent activities by Maoists was also visible through 2023.

5 mins read
Bihar, India [ Photo: Darshan Kedar/ Unsplash]

On February 5, 2024, a suspected Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) cadre, Vimal Yadav, was arrested by the Police from the Shaheed Bhagat Singh colony in Ashok Nagar, under the Rampur Police Station limits of Gaya District. A CPI-Maoist letter pad was recovered from his possession.

On February 1, 2024, one CPI-Maoist cadre, Kare Lal aka Pyare Lal Koda, carrying a reward of INR 200,000, was arrested in Lakhisarai District. Acting on information that Maoists were trying to strengthen their position in this area and pressurizing the village people to join the outfit by threatening them, a raid was conducted, and Kare Lal was arrested. Kare Lal had been an active member of the ‘East Bihar-North-East Jharkhand Special Area Committee’ and had been absconding for the last 10 years.

According to partial data collated by the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP), at least two Naxalites [Left-Wing Extremists, LWEs] have been arrested in 2024 (all data till February 18) in Bihar. During the corresponding period of 2023, three Naxalites were arrested. The total number of such arrests through 2023 stood at 33. In 2022, 52 Naxalites were arrested in the State; another 45 in 2021; 34 in 2020; and 50 in 2019. Since March 6, when SATP started compiling data, at least 2,665 Naxalites have been arrested in the state.

Meanwhile, one Naxalite has surrendered in 2024 in Bihar. During the corresponding period of 2023, one Naxalite had surrendered, as well. A total of at least six such surrenders was recorded through 2023, in addition to three such surrenders in 2022, according to the SATP database. The number of surrenders was one in 2021, four in 2020, and seven in 2019. A total of 442 Naxalites has surrendered in the state since March 6, 2000, including a maximum of 61 in 2002.

Since March 6, 2000, a total of 330 Naxalites has been killed in the state. The last fatality in this category was reported on June 8, 2022, when a suspected ‘zonal committee member’ of the CPI-Maoist, Matalu Turi aka Prakash Turi, was killed during an encounter by the Security Forces (SFs) in the Giddheswar Forest range near Birgodia village under Khaira Police Station limits in Jamui District. Apart from the above-mentioned fatality on June 8, 2022, another three Maoist fatalities were reported in the months of January (one) and February (two), taking the total number of fatalities to four through 2022. 

The last SF fatality in the state was reported on February 14, 2019, when a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) sub-inspector was killed in a landmine blast triggered by the Maoists in the Langurahi Forest in Gaya District. A total of 271 SF personnel has been killed in the state since March 6, 2000, with a maximum of 28 in 2003.

The last LWE-linked civilian fatality in the state was recorded on December 23, 2021, when suspected Maoists killed the then newly-elected Mukhiya (village head) of Azimganj Panchayat (village level local-self Government institution), Parmanand Tuddu, by slitting his throat with a sharp-edged weapon, for allegedly defying their ‘diktats’ in the Panchayat polls then held at Azimganj under the Dharhara Police Station limits of Munger District. A total of 496 civilians have been killed in the state since March 6, 2000, with a high of 46 in 2010.

Remarkably, for the first time since 2000, Bihar did not record any fatality in the year 2023. In 2022, four Maoist fatalities were recorded. Significantly, the overall fatalities recorded in the state have been falling since 2016, with an exception in 2019. There were 36 fatalities in 2016, 24 in 2017, 14 in 2018, up to 21 in 2019, and again 15 in 2020, further to 13 in 2021, and four in 2022. Notably, a maximum of 121 fatalities were recorded in 2002.

A decline in other violent activities by Maoists was also visible through 2023. Importantly, there was no incident of a bomb blast, as against one such incident in 2022. SFs exchanged fire with Maoists on two occasions in 2023, as against six such incidents in 2022.

Further, overall LWE-related incidents in Bihar dropped from 43 in 2022 to 40 in 2023.

Nonetheless, concerns persist. According to SATP data for 2023, based on assessments of underground and over-ground activities of the Maoists, 12 districts – Arwal, Aurangabad, Bhojpur, Gaya, Jamui, Kaimur, Lakhisarai, Motihari, Munger, Nalanda, Patna, and West Champaran – remained in the marginally affected category. In 2022, three districts – Lakhisarai, Aurangabad and Jamui – were moderately affected and another four – Buxar, Gaya, Rohtas, Munger – were in the marginally affected category.

Moreover, foiling Maoist subversive efforts, the SFs recovered caches of arms, ammunition and explosives on 18 occasions in 2023, in addition to 14 such incidents in 2022. In one significant incident on August 30, 2023, SFs seized 13,800 detonators, three Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), a.303 rifle and 100 bullets, bundles of cordex wires (detonating cord), a black uniform, two basic phones, and two walkie-talkie sets, during raids on alleged CPI-Maoist hideouts in the Pandara Hills area under the Lutua Police Station in Gaya District. Earlier, on August 9, 2023, the SFs neutralized an illegal gun factory in the Adhaura Forest area of Kaimur District, which was used to manufacture arms and ammunition for the CPI-Maoist. During the raid the Police also recovered ready and semi-made firearms, equipment and material used in manufacturing guns, pistols and bullets, along with Maoist pamphlets, incriminating literature and receipt books. Three persons – Ramsurat Singh, Vijay Shankar Singh and Ayodhya Singh – who were arrested during the raid, confessed to manufacturing firearms for the Maoists and repairing their weapons, for over two decades. The total number of incidents of such recoveries since March 6, 2000, stands at 620. In the current year, two such incidents of arms recovery have already been recorded (data till February 18, 2024).

Meanwhile, on February 2, 2024, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) charge sheeted two accused – Rohit Rai aka Prakash of Kaimur District and Pramod Yadav aka Pramod Kumar of Aurangabad, both in Bihar – in a case relating to the revival of violent Naxalism [Left Wing Extremism] in Bihar’s Magadh Zone. NIA investigations indicate that Rohit held the rank of ‘sub-zonal commander’ and was motivating cadres in his area to further the Maoist ideology. Pramod Yadav was attempting to revive the Maoist movement in Aurangabad and adjoining areas. The NIA had taken up investigations of the case on September 26, 2023, and had found that Rohit Rai, along with Pramod Yadav and others, had conducted a meeting in Mahi Village, Aurangabad on June 8, 2023, to revive Maoist influence in the Magadh Zone and to collect ‘levy’ from business establishments, contractors, toll plazas and other such entities, to strengthen the activities of the organisation.

Inputs also suggest that the Maoists continue to use opium cultivation as a source of revenue in several areas of the state, prominently including the Gaya, Aurangabad, and Jamui districts. A July 15, 2023, report, quoted Sushil Mansingh Khopde, Additional Director General (ADG Operations), Special Task Force (STF), stating,

Inputs also suggest that Maoists have been using opium cultivation as a source of revenue in these areas. They levy a ‘tax’ on poppy cultivators and small enterprises. Law enforcement agencies destroyed around 600 acres of poppy plantation in these areas in 2021, and in 2022, around 1200 acres were destroyed.

Meanwhile, according to Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPR&D) data, as on January 1, 2022, Bihar continues to reel under significant shortages in Police strength. The State’s Police-population ratio (Policemen per hundred thousand populations) stands at an abysmal 75.16, the lowest among States in the country, and far below the national average of 152.80, which is itself unacceptably low. There is, moreover, a vacancy of 49,559 personnel (34.68 per cent) against the sanctioned strength of 1,42,872 in Bihar. Further, out of a sanctioned strength of 242 apex Indian Police Service (IPS) Officers in the State, 19 posts (7.85 per cent) remained vacant.

SF consolidation on the ground has certainly pushed the Maoists to the wall in Bihar, as in the other Maoist-afflicted states of the country. However, a residual menace persists. If the rebels are to be completely weeded out from the state the SFs will have to aggressively continue with their augmented operations, and the civil administration would need to dramatically improve outreach and developmental efforts in this, India’s most backward, state.

Deepak Kumar Nayak

Deepak Kumar Nayak, Research Associate, Institute for Conflict Management, New Delhi, India

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Latest from Blog