NEW DELHI: While many Maoist insurgents put down arms before security forces every year, in 2021 the number of surrenders has seen a sharp spike. Officials say, given that there are three months still to go before year-end, if the current trend continues then total surrenders by Maoist insurgents may break a five-year record. The maximum number comes from Chhattisgarh, where 312 Maoists have surrendered this year until August 31.
The total number of surrenders in the state in 2020, 2019, 2018 and 2017 was 344, 315, 465 and 366, respectively. Lack of strong leadership among the insurgents, absence of young leaders, reduction in recruitment, deaths and illnesses due to Covid-19 and initiatives encouraging surrenders are seen as major factors. Among the most notable surrenders this year was that of hardcore Maoist Maharaj Pramanik, who was carrying a reward of `10 lakh. He surrendered before the Jharkhand police on August 26.
Chhattisgarh police chief DM Awasthi credited security measures and awareness campaigns by local police. “Local police and the Central Reserve Police Force have been tracking Maoists effectively. Initiatives and campaigns to encourage surrenders have also borne fruit,” he said. According to a senior CRPF official, “Resentment among the lower and middle rung cadres against their leadership has grown during the pandemic. The lower-rung could not get treatment.
That resentment has added to the disillusionment among the CPI (Maoist) cadre.”Of the 52 Maoists who surrendered in Telangana on September 9, the average age was 20.8 years, home ministry sources said. Deaths of security forces and civilians have come down by 80%, from an all-time high of 1,005 in 2010.