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Chhattisgarh: Voting in Naxal-affected Karigundam after 23 years, here is how Left Wing Extremism has come down drastically under the Modi govt

Karigundam forms part of the Dantewada (ST) community. According to the reports, the CRPF 150 Battalion and District Force are providing security for the voting process which has been underway in the region since morning. Voters could be seen lining up outside a polling booth in the Karigundam area to vote in the Chhattisgarh elections.

On Tuesday (7th November), the voting process for the first phase of the Chattisgarh Assembly Elections kick-started amid high security given the problem of Naxalism in the state. The voting began in the regions of Mohla-Manpur, Antagarh, Bhanupratappur, Kanker, Keshkal, Kondagaon, Narayanpur, Dantewada, Bijapur and Konta. Remarkably, voting is also underway in the naxal-affected Karigundam area in Chhattisgarh after 23 years.

Karigundam forms part of the Dantewada (ST) costituency. According to the reports, the CRPF 150 Battalion and District Force are providing security for the voting process which has been underway in the region since morning. Voters could be seen lining up outside a polling booth in the Karigundam area to vote in the Chhattisgarh elections.

No voting had taken place in this area for 23 years.

Dantewada was won by the BJP’s Bhima Mandavi in 2018. Mandavi and four security officers were murdered days before the 2019 Lok Sabha elections as their convoy was attacked in Dantewada district by Naxals. Notably, this time the BJP is represented by Chaitram Atani, a former member of the now-illegal Sulwa Judum movement.

Chhavindra Karma, the son of the late Mahendra Karma, a minister in the Congress governance and former Sulwa Judum leader, represents the Congress. Mahendra Karma also died in the Darbha Valley Naxal attack. Devati Karma, the wife of late Mahendra Karma was the sitting MLA in the constituency. She had defeated Bhima Mandavi’s wife Ojaswi Mandavi in 2019 bypolls after Bhima Mandavi’s death.

Reportedly, an IED blast is said to have happened in the Sukma district injuring a CRPF commando who was deployed on an election duty today on 7th November. The blast was executed by the Naxalites as the voting for the Assembly elections got underway in the region.

“The incident occurred when a joint team of CRPF and Commando Battalions for Resolute Action (CoBRA) 206th battalion was out on an area domination operation from Tondamarka camp towards Elmagunda village for security deployment during the polls,” the police said.

A similar IED blast happened on 6th November. An IED (improvised explosive device) explosion in Kanker yesterday injured a BSF (Border Security Force) constable and two members of a polling squad. The incident occurred while a joint party of BSF personnel and District Force members was en route from Camp Marbeda to the Rengaghati Rengagondi polling facility, along with four polling teams sent from the Kanker district’s Chhotebetiya police station.

Maoist Violence reduced by 77% since 2010

The state of Chhattisgarh along with Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Odisha, and Jharkhand has been facing the issue of Naxalism for decades now. However, while the other states somehow managed to reduce the Maoists’ presence within, the process of eradicating Naxalism began quite late in Chhattisgarh. The state continues to remain affected by the Maoist presence, however, the Maoist violence and the Left Wing Extremism have gone down massively in the country under the national BJP rule.

The Ministry of Home Affairs in the year 2021 stated that the Maoist violence in the country has gone down by 77% since 2010. The government said that steadfast implementation of the National Policy and Action Plan to address the Left Wing Extremism had led to 77% fall in the LWE. The National Policy and Action Plan (2015) is a multifaceted strategy that includes development projects, security measures, and protection of the rights and entitlements of local communities.

Reports mention that violence from 2258 incidents in 2009 had come down to 509 in 2021. Also, the number of resultant deaths has reduced by 90%- from 1,005 in 2010 to 98 in 2022.

What is Left-wing extremism (LWE)?

Left-wing extremism (LWE) is a political ideology that uses violence and terrorism to further its objectives. It supports extreme socialist, communist, or anarchist perspectives. The goal is to create a ‘revolutionary’ socialist or communist state, which frequently entails resistance to capitalism, imperialism, and the current political and social order.

To further their agenda, LWE groups target government institutions, law enforcement agencies, or even private property. Law enforcement and governments oppose LWE given that they see it as a threat to peace and national security.

Chhattisgarh, looked after by the Congress, is the only state in India where Maoists maintain a significant presence and the ability to launch large-scale attacks. Over one-third of all Maoist-related violence and between 70% and 90% of all Maoist-related deaths have occurred in Chhattisgarh over the last five years (2018–22).

Naxalism first appeared in Chhattisgarh in the late 1960s, spreading through Bhopalpatnam in the peaceful valley of Bastar in the state’s south. Because of its dense forests, dangerous terrain, and poor administration access to many districts in Bastar, Chhattisgarh fell victim to Naxalism.

After the initial outbreak in West Bengal on May 25, 1967, Naxalism spread to 12 states, including Jharkhand, Odisha, and Andhra Pradesh, and 220 districts. Naxalism was forced to stay in Chhattisgarh because it was geographically surrounded by these states. Its claws are still spread across four districts of Bijapur, Narayanpur, Sukma, and Dantewada, despite years of struggle by the state authorities.

How did Maoist violence decline in India?

Maoists continue to wield influence and garner support from the local populace through a combination of goodwill and fear due to Bastar’s lack of infrastructure, roads, and connectivity, as well as the state’s scant presence.

However, the Indian government has been making rigorous efforts to curb Maoist violence. Notably, the Maoist influence and associated violence have consistently declined in the country due to a variety of factors which include- a potent push by security agencies in Maoist bases, roads, and civic amenities reaching further into the interior than ever before and youth disinterest in Maoist ideology has stripped the insurgent shift of a fresh leadership. Government’s welfare policies and efforts to create jobs in these area have also been paying off.

New division by MHA to eradicate LWE

The Ministry of Home Affairs in the year 2006 formed a special division to effectively address the Left Wing Extremist insurgency in a holistic manner. The LWE Division implements security-related programs aimed at increasing capacity in LWE-affected regions. The Division also keeps an eye on the LWE situation and the countermeasures implemented by the states that have been impacted.

The LWE Division further coordinates the execution of various development schemes of the Government of India’s Ministries/Departments in LWE-affected States. LWE even today affects the states of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha, Bihar, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, and Kerala to varying degrees.

Voting is being held in constituencies that are Naxal-affected and fall in districts like Bastar, Dantewada, Kanker, Kabeerdham, and Rajnandgaon. 5304 voting booths have been set up by the election commission for the first phase of voting which is underway. There are 40 lakh, 78 thousand, and 681 voters in this phase. Of these, there are 19 lakh, 93 thousand, 937 male voters and 20 lakh, 84 thousand, 675 female voters. The counting of votes is scheduled for December 3.

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staff
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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