12 Nov, 2010, 03.50AM IST, Bharti Jain, ET Bureau
NEW DELHI: Maoists continue to hit at symbols of welfare and development while carrying on with their rhetoric about neglect of tribal areas by the state. Over the last 10 months, the Left-wing extremists unleashed 278 attacks on government buildings and infrastructure works across seven states, destroying 33 schools, 20 panchayat offices, 105 roads/culverts and 38 communication towers.
Railways continue to be a favoured target, having recorded 22 Naxal attacks until October 31, 2010. Of these, Chhattisgarh witnessed 13 attacks on railway properties, Maharashtra 12, West Bengal 7 and Jharkhand 6.
Majority of Naxalite attacks in 2010 focused on forest roads and culverts. As many as 105 forest roads and culverts were destroyed by Maoists, as compared 126 in the whole of 2009, in an apparent bid to instill a sense of fear in contractors to meet extortion demands.
Public sector units and works in Maoist-infested areas witnessed 22 attacks, up from 17 through 2009. NMDC’s premises in Chhattisgarh were targeted in 11 different incidents in the first 10 months of 2010. Eight attacks were directed at the Gramin Sadak Nirman Yojana in three states. Essar Pipelines, which faced 6 attacks last year, saw only one attack in 2010.
There was also some respite from Naxalites’ targeting of communication towers, with attacks coming down from 67 last year to 38 in the first ten months of 2010. Of these, Jharkhand accounted for 14 attacks and Bihar for 12 attacks.
Government’s psychological warfare highlighting “mindless” attacks on schools by Maoists appears to have had some positive effect. Such incidents were down from 67 in 2009 to 38 until October 31 this year. However, panchayat offices and buildings continued to bear the brunt, with 20 of them coming under Maoist fire as compared to 23 in the whole of last year.
Mining units saw nine attacks in the first 10 months of 2010, a three-fold rise from 3 attacks witnessed through 2009. Six of the nine incidents of mines being targeted this year were reported from Jharkhand.
Power plants were not spared either. Maoists attacked 3 power plants, one each in Chhattisgarh, West Bengal and Orissa. Last year, two attacks on power plants were reported, both in Maharashtra. Maoists also destroyed pole/transmission towers in two different incidents in Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand.
Maoists’ targeting of key infrastructure and development works stands in direct conflict with their so-called struggle against neglect and deprivation by the state. “It only proves that the Left-wing extremism is nothing more than red terror, devoid of any reasoning or ideology,” noted a senior official of the security establishment.
As many as 577 civilians and 264 security forces have been killed in a total of 1842 incidents of Maoist violence in the first 10 months of 2010.