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Naxals killed 27 villagers in Chhattisgarh in 2023, accusing them of being ‘police informers’: Reports

According to News 18, the anti-Naxal forces also employ a network of informants who operate within the region, assimilating into the local villages to gather intelligence.

On Thursday (2nd November), a few hours before Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rally in Kanker, Chhattisgarh’s Bastar region, Naxals murdered three villagers, labelling them as “police informers.” The brutal killing of unarmed civilians remains their most prevalent method of instilling fear.

In the past ten years, Naxals have massacred 569 villagers in Bastar. All these villagers were allegedly associated with the police providing information about the Naxals to the local law enforcement agencies.

According to a report by News18, a total of 27 killings have occurred in the past ten months. Notably, the state assembly elections will be held in Chhattisgarh in November 2023.

In addition to their targeting of security forces, politicians, and government officials, Naxals have consistently resorted to the abduction and execution of villagers as their standard operating procedure. Each year, the state police report a minimum of 50 to 60 cases of villagers being killed by Naxals, often under the accusation of being “police informers.”

Informing more about this, P Sundarraj (IG – Bastar Range), said, “The Naxals have their own units of ‘Khabri’ (informers). They often mindlessly target villagers who do not comply with their orders or who resist their actions or protest against their diktat. They abduct them, shoot or hack them dead and dump their bodies in their respective villages. This is to prove a point, ensuring their presence across villages, where government aids reach, or build critical access, roads and so on, they target those areas. This is their way of spreading fear psychosis.”

Additionally, he mentioned that the police had released statements in various instances, clarifying that the individuals targeted in these assaults, and accused of collaborating with anti-Naxal groups, had no affiliation with the police forces whatsoever.

Similar to other specialised police units, the anti-Naxal forces also employ a network of informants who operate within the region, assimilating into the local villages to gather intelligence. Nevertheless, in the majority of cases, the victims were discovered to be ordinary villagers with no ties to the forces. Naxals dumped their bodies with a poster — “Punishment for working as a police informer is death”.

The senior police officer further said, “Many times, we take the responsibility of the victim families, we rehabilitate them to safer places so that they live a secure life. These steps are being taken to ensure that the villagers have confidence in us and don’t feel deserted.”

According to the senior police officer, former Naxals who have surrendered their weapons and integrated into the security forces often serve as valuable sources of information regarding the Naxal organisation. Approximately 400 Naxals surrender annually, with 140 being enlisted and trained by the force over the last five years, while the rest undergo rehabilitation. The Chhattisgarh government has established a rehabilitation policy for both surrendered Naxals and the families of those who have fallen victim to Naxal violence.

IG P Sundarraj said, “Confidence building among the villagers is then of the crucial works we do. The Naxals generally spread false propaganda among the villagers to get their sympathy and antagonise them against the government. They tell the villagers that the government is going to sell their land and forests to private companies and that is why the roads are being built. But we are trying to bridge the gap through several community programmes inside the remote interior villages.”

He added that the Naxals are currently experiencing a decline in support from villagers, as a number of key members of their central committee (referred to as the CC) have either been eliminated or have passed away due to illness or age-related concerns.

The CC of CPI-Maoists, known as Naxals in Bastar region generally has 42 members, however, the number is now down to 22. “Around 12 members were neutralised, while the rest died (natural deaths)”, the officer said.

Detailing about how the state police is prepared and equipped to combat the Naxals, he said, “The state police force has a special unit called Bastar Fighters, which has 2,100 members. Bastar fighter is a force that consists of local villagers. We have taken 1,500 boys and 600 girls from Naxal affected villages and trained them. In 20 to 30 km, from one village to another, the language, the dialect and the terrain change. No outside force can navigate through these areas without local support. So, we have built the local forces. The central paramilitary forces have their Bastar Battalion, which has around 1,000 local youths.”

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