RAIPUR: Parvati Korram, a tribal angadwadi worker, was killed by the outlawed CPI (Maoist) guerillas at Kondagaon. Similarly, a sarpanch was killed for coordinating the construction activities of a bridge in Sukma. A spurt in civilian casualties is the chilling new reality in Maoist hotbed of Bastar in Chhattisgarh.
Official data accessed by the Express revealed Naxal violence claimed the lives of 81 civilians till April 30 this year, which is much higher than the combined figure of 52 deaths of security personnel (27) and Maoists (25). This means over 300 per cent increase over the corresponding period last year, when 26 people were killed.
“The Maoists are mostly killing those whom they suspect to be police informers, though hardly one per cent of the victims are actually associated with the police. By killing innocent villagers, they are trying to create fear among the masses and assert their presence since their area of influence is fast depleting,” Vivekanand Sinha, Inspector General, Bastar Zone, old TNIE.Sources said the number of deaths could actually be higher because many killings are not reported to the police and therefore do not figure in the records.
“Earlier, the Maoists organised ‘jan adalats’ to seek the views of villagers before announcing the punishment. They are now disregarding their own practice and killing civilians merely on suspicion,” Kondagaon SP Abhishek Pallava said.
According to guerrilla warfare experts, the escalated killings of villagers might not have the Maoist top leaders’ support as they rely on mass backing for their movement.Every area divisional committee of the Maoists is usually given targets that include killing securityforces, recruiting and training cadres, eliminating police informers etc. “Since the Naxals are losing out to forces on various fronts, the civilians are emerging as their soft targets,” Pallava said.