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Naxals kill 17 security personnel in Chhattisgarh

Naxals kill 17 security personnel in Chhattisgarh

At least 17 security personnel were killed and 14 injured in a Naxal ambush in Sukma, Chhattisgarh. The security forces were attacked by nearly 250 Naxals. The Naxals, also called Maoists, escaped with 16 automatic weapons and an Under Barrel Grenade Launcher (UBGL). The injured personnel were airlifted to Raipur and admitted to a private hospital. Two of them are said to be serious.

Earlier this week, the government had informed Parliament that Maoist violence was on "consistent decline" over the last five years. Minister of State for Home G. Kishan Reddy told the Rajya Sabha in a written reply that cases of violence had reduced by over 38 per cent in 2019 compared to 2014 during the UPA government.

"Steadfast implementation of the National Policy and Action Plan – 2015 has resulted in consistent decline in Left Wing Extremism (LWE)-related violence in the country during the last five years," Reddy said. He added that the number of security personnel killed in the violence has reduced from 317 in 2009 to 52 in 2019.

It was in 2006 that then prime minister Manmohan Singh had called the Maoist insurgency as the single-biggest internal security challenge to India. LWE seeks to overthrow the democratically-elected governments through an armed uprising. In one of their most daring attacks, the Maoists had killed 76 soldiers in Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh in April 2010.

Since then they have killed many Congress and BJP leaders in central Indian states. The Maoists have bombed schools and road projects in their attempts to ward off government efforts to improve socio-economic conditions of the people.

Successive governments have been trying to combat Maoist insurgency not just through counter-insurgency operations but also by bringing developmental activities to tribal areas. This two-pronged strategy has been effective in reducing the geographical stranglehold of Maoists considerably over the last decade. It is believed that demonetization in 2016 crippled the ultras financially. Over the years, the government has found public support shifting to the government from the ultras.

This attack by the Naxals comes on the heels of the arrest of one of their leaders, Dinkar Gota, a divisional committee member who was active in the adjoining state of Maharashtra. Gota, along with a woman Naxalite, Sunanda Koretti, was arrested from Gadchiroli district this month. He was involved in a landmine blast in May 2019, which had claimed the lives of 16 policemen in Gadchiroli and carried a big reward for his capture..