India: Declining Ferocity In Bastar Division, Chhattisgarh

On May 4, 2022, a District Reserve Guards (DRG) head constable identified as Salik Ram Markam (37) was killed during an encounter with Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) cadres in Tulargufa Forest area in Mungeri region under Chhotedonger Police Station limits in Narayanpur District.

On the same day of May 4, 2022, a 25-year-old villager identified as Satyam Pulse was stabbed to death by CPI-Maoist cadres in Bijapur District. According to an unnamed Police official from the Modakpal Police Station, the Maoists had abducted two persons from Guddipal village under Usoor Block (administrative division) in the evening of May 3 and later killed one of them after holding a ‘Jan Adalat’(People’s/ Kangaroo Court organized by the Maoists). The deceased was identified as Satyam Pulse. The other villager, identified as Bhima, was released.

On May 1, 2022, CPI-Maoist cadres killed a village Kotwar (village Chowkidar/ watchman) identified as Lakhma Markam with a sharp-edged weapon in Gudse village under Katekalyan Police Station limits in Dantewada District. Lakhma of Gudse village in Kalarpara, was working outside his house on May 1 when he suddenly went missing. The family assumed he had gone to the forest, but his body was recovered in the morning of May 2 near the village. The pattern of the killing suggests that it was carried out by the Maoists, Police said, adding that, as the village ‘Kotwar,’ Markam was involved in developmental activities in the village. He had earlier been warned by the Maoists to desist from such activities.

These are the most recent Maoist-related incidents of killing in the Bastar Division, which comprises of seven Districts – Bastar, Bijapur, Dantewada, Kanker, Kondagaon, Narayanpur, and Sukma – which are considered to be the ‘Final Maoist Bastion.’

According to partial data compiled by the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP), the Bastar Division has accounted for at least 30 Left Wing Extremism (LWE)-linked fatalities (11 civilians, six SF personnel, and 13 Maoists) in the current year, thus far (data till May 8, 2022). During the corresponding period in 2021, the Division had recorded 59 fatalities (seven civilians, 38 SF personnel, and 14 Maoists). Through 2021, Maoist-linked fatalities in the Division totaled 113 (23 civilians, 45 SF personnel, and 45 Maoists).

Incidents of killing in the Division have reduced to approximately 49.15 per cent in the current year, as compared to the corresponding period in 2021, indicating a decline in the ferocity of Maoist activities. In 2021, the Bastar Division accounted for 94.95 per cent of total killings reported in Chhattisgarh, as against 94.07 per cent in 2020. Significantly, since March 6, 2000, when SATP started documenting LWE-related violence across the country, the Bastar Division accounted for 90.90 per cent of all fatalities in the State – 3,179 out of a total of 3,497. The Division accounted for 28.87 per cent of the total of 11,009 fatalities recorded across the country since 2000.

In the interim, the lone killing that was recorded outside the Bastar Division in the current year, was on January 11, 2022, when CPI-Maoist cadres beat a young man to death, accusing him of being a ‘Police informer,’ in Kalwar village under the Madanwada Police Station limits of Rajnandgaon District.