Patna: Barring a few pockets in southern Bihar that share border with Jharkhand, Maoists have little ability to disrupt assembly polls in the state. Though 33 of 38 districts in Bihar are Maoist-hit, security forces have succeeded in cornering the rebel outfit in Gaya, Aurangabad, Nawada, Munger, Jamui and Lakhisarai districts. In Gaya and Jamui, several top Maoist activists died in encounters with security forces over the past few months.
CRPF IG, Bihar sector, Arun Kumar said, “Only a few districts are vulnerable to Maoist violence and it is not easy for the red rebels to disrupt polls in densely populated northern Bihar that offers little space to them to hide and operate.” Kumar’s confidence stems from the fact that Bihar has registered a sharp fall in Maoist violence in 2015. It is a big relief for the Election Commission of India which is gearing up for one of the largest mobilisations of central para-military forces (around 60,000) in poll-bound Bihar.
In 2015, only 63 incidents of Maoist violence have been reported till July, the lowest since 2010 when JD(U)-BJP alliance formed government for the second time in Bihar with Nitish Kumar at the helm of affairs. Eight lives were lost in these incidents. Even the bandh called by Maoists to oppose PM Narendra Modi’s visit to the state in August evoked no response.
Even in south Bihar, considered as Maoist stronghold, security forces have made inroads. IG Kumar said Shiv Shankar Baitha, a top Maoist activist of Magadh zone, was recently arrested and the security forces killed Sarita Ganjhu, zonal commander of the rebel outfit, in a recent encounter. “Around six to seven hardcore Maoist activists were arrested in the recent past. The death of Sarita Ganjhu has demoralised the women cadres of the outfit,” Kumar said. However, Dev Kumar Dhan alias Arvindji, who holds command of the rebel outfit in Bihar and Jharkhand, is yet to be arrested.
In 2010, Bihar recorded 307 cases of naxal violence in which 97 lives were lost. In 2011, 316 incidents claimed 63 lives. In 2012, only 166 incidents were reported in which 44 people lost their lives. The year 2013 saw 177 incidents of naxal violence claiming 69 lives which came down to 163 incidents and 32 deaths in 2014, according to a Union home ministry data.
JD(U) spokesperson Dr Ajay Alok credited CM Nitish Kumar’s inclusive development strategy for slide in naxal activities in the state. “The security forces will have an upper hand while combating the Maoists during polls,” he said.
The Maoists exert their influence in Bihar through three zones – Uttri zone (across the Ganges in north Bihar), Madhya zone (the central Bihar) and Magadh zone (south Bihar sharing border with Jharkhand).
ADG (law and order) Alok Raj said the Maoists have lost foothold in the state following police pressure. “We have recovered several improvised explosive devices from Khagaria and other districts this month,” Raj said. He, however, added that the police have recovered several Maoist posters in Jamui announcing poll boycott. “Security agencies should exercise utmost care and caution during the polls,” he said.
Bihar DGP P K Thakur said the environment is conducive for peaceful polls in the state. “We will ensure that the elections pass off peacefully and people exercise their franchise without fear,” Thakur said.