IN A rare, Gadchiroli registered zero police casualty in 2015, 13 years after a similar feat was achieved in 2002. What makes the 2015 achievement more significant than the one in 2002 is that it is for the first time after the formation of CPI (Maoist) with the merger of People’s War Group (PWG) and Maoist Communist Centre (MCC) in 2004. It was after CPI (Maoist) coming to fore that the Naxalites had embarked on full-scale military offensive against the police by launching People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army (PLGA).
Two Gadchiroli policemen, however, died in 2015 but in the neighbouring Narayanpur district in an operation to support the Chhattisgarh police. The police casualties have averaged over 10 per year in Gadchiroli since 2004 with highest 55 deaths happening in 2009. Even in the previous three years (2012, 13, 14), when high Naxal casualties (4, 23, 10 respectively) have been recorded, the police too have lost 31 (14, 6, 11 respectively) jawans.
In the pre and post CPI (Maoist) periods, the number of police casualties stand at 55 and 133 respectively. Comparative figures for Naxals stand at 106 and 44. The injury figures for cops in the same periods are 107 and 383.
In 2015, however, Naxal casualties also were two, lowest after 2004 when it was zero. The police, however, claimed that Naxal literature seized during various operations in 2015 reveal three more Naxal deaths last year, two in Chichoda encounter and one in Kondawahi encounter.
Superintendent of Police Sandip Patil attributes the success to incessant area domination, opening of new police posts in areas rarely accessed in the past and seizures of record quantity of explosives.
“We foiled the Naxals’ plans to inflict casualties on the police by seizing 244 kg explosives, which is a record,” he told The Indian Express.
“We have also been getting very good intelligence due to our pro-people programmes like distribution of essential things to tribals. This is also a reason why we have seen Naxals killing more civilians towards the end of this year out of a sense of revenge and to create terror,” the SP further said. 2015 saw 18 civilians getting killed by Naxals as against 24 in 2012, 12 in 2013 and14 in 2014.
The year also saw the highest number, 55, ever since surrender policy was declared in 2006. The number of Naxal arrests also stood at highest 26.”The surrenders have been of very high quality than those in the previous years since we have got three dalam commanders, eight deputy commanders and 35 dalam members. In many earlier years, most of the surrenders were of sangam members (local supporters),” Patil said.
Asked why there have been less Naxal casualties this year, Patil said,”Though we would have wanted it to be higher, the number of Naxal casualties shouldn’t be seen as barometer of police success. Let’s not forget the police casualties are zero and the seizure of explosives is at its peak. And it’s not that we have not encountered Naxals. There were over 30 encounters last year. And the numbers of surrenders and arrests too must be seen in that context. That we were able to catch 26 of them alive is no ordinary thing.”