Maoist violence in Andhra lowest in 2008, say police


Hyderabad : The Maoist violence has touched the lowest ebb ever in Andhra Pradesh with 30 percent decline in extremist activities during 2008, a top police official said Wednesday.

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The police top brass have termed this as the biggest success as the state was earlier considered one of the major strongholds of Maoists in India.

There was a 30 percent decline in the Maoist activities during the year compared to 2007, said K. Arvind Rao, additional director general of police (intelligence) at a news conference here.

Though the state’s elite anti-Maoist force Greyhounds lost its 38 personnel in a major ambush by Maoists in neighbouring Orissa, the Andhra police managed to keep the Maoist activity in check through intensive combing operations.

Maoists ambushed and sunk a police boat in a reservoir in Orissa near the border with Andhra Pradesh June 28, killing 38 Greyhounds personnel who were returning to the state after a joint operation in Orissa.

Though 45 civilians were killed in Maoist violence this year compared to 44 in 2007, the number of incidents has come down from 132 last year to 94. Police official said 36 Maoists, including seven state committee members of the outlawed Communist Party of India (Maoist) and seven Dalam (armed squad) commanders, were killed in 27 gun battles with the police.

Arvind Rao said 392 extremists, including one state committee member and five Dalam commanders, were arrested and 193 extremists and one central committee member had surrendered.

The Maoist activities have been on the wane since the police launched massive operations three years ago following the failure of the first direct peace talks the Maoist leaders had with the state government.

Maoist violence saw a 42 percent decline in 2007. The Maoist movement has further weakened with the killing of several top leaders in gun battles with the police during last couple of years.

Police said the Maoist cadre strength has come down by nearly 50 percent, from 850 to approximately 400.

More than 6,000 people have been killed in Maoist violence in the state since 1969, when Srikakulam district witnessed the first armed uprising by landless peasants.

The state has been a traditional stronghold of Maoists, who claim to be fighting for poor and oppressed in the rural areas.

It was in the early 1980s that the Communist Party of India-Marxist-Leninist – People’s War Group (PWG) was formed. The dreaded Maoist outfit was active till 2005 when it merged with the Maoist Communist Centre (MCC) of Bihar to form CPI-Maoist, the most powerful Maoist outfit in the country.