Published On : Tue, Apr 25th, 2017

Sukma encounter: The number of Maoist killings is way bigger than those murdered by Kashmir militants

Nagpur/New Delhi: Amid the growing national concern over the rise of ‘stone-pelting’ and insurgency in Kashmir, the deadly Naxal attack in Chhattisgarh’s Sukma should give room to the thought that the Naxal-infested areas face a more imminent threat than the Valley.

“Naxalism is a far bigger threat than terrorism,” P Chidambaram had said in 2011. The then Home Minister had arrived at this conclusion purely on the basis of statistics. While 36 civilians and 69 security personnel had been killed in Jammu & Kashmir in the preceding year, a total of 626 civilians and 277 security personnel had been killed in Maoist militant attacks in 2010. The latter recorded nearly 10 times more the number of fatalities.

The argument of Chidambaram is not restricted to 2010-11. Upon scrutinising the number of fatalities recorded over the past decade, Chidambaram’s stance appears validated to this date.

Fatalities caused by Naxal violence between 2008-17

As per the data provided by South Asian Terrorism Portal, 2,202 civilians were killed between 2008 to 2017 (till April 16). The number of security force personnel killed in the same time period is 1,389.

The most stringent impact of red terror was felt in 2010 when 904 fatalities were reported in Naxal attacks. However, the security forces have successfully launched a crackdown over the past couple of years. Under the current ruling dispensation, the casualties due to Maoist violence dropped to its lowest in 2015, when only 151 deaths (of civilians and security personnel combined) were reported. The number slightly grew in 2016, yet the average remained below as compared to the fatalities recorded under the erstwhile government.

Fatalities caused by insurgents in Kashmir between 2008-17

The ‘healing touch’, provided under the regime of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, brought a positive change in the Valley. After being embroiled in violence throughout the 90s’, the subsequent decade had brought a ray of hope in the Valley. “People of Kashmir loved Vajpayee. He instilled confidence back in them. He showed them the brighter side of Indian democracy. Manmohan Singh, though not in the same manner, carried on from where Vajpayee left off,” claims former R&AW chief A S Dulat.

Under the two consecutive governments led by Manmohan Singh, the number of fatalities drastically dropped in Kashmir. The lowest number of deaths were recorded in 2012 when 16 civilians and 17 security force personnel lost their lives.

The total number of civilians killed in insurgent attacks over the past decade is 309, whereas, the number of security personnel killed in the same period is 537. The numbers are merely a fraction of the fatalities caused due to leftwing extremism between 2008-17.

Engineer Rashid, the independent MLA in Jammu & Kashmir, accuses the Indian media and think-tanks of developing a narrative against Islam and Wahhabism by antagonising the Kashmiri resistance and adopting a muted stance on Maoist violence. “May these pseudo intellectuals explain is New Delhi not imposing AFSPA in Naxal-hit areas and why doesn’t it dare to impose draconian laws likes PSA there?” he said while speaking to the Kashmir Observer.

As seen in the above table, the number of fatalities recorded in Kashmir is, on an average, less than 1/4th of the number of civilians and security personnel killed by Naxal militants.
Can numbers alone not determine the nature of the threat?

Statistics alone can not determine the nature of the threat posed by either of the two brands of extremism. Although the militancy inspired by Maoism claimed more lives of security personnel and civilians in the past decade, there could still remain scope for negotiation, if the government could address the alleged socio-economic injustice meted out to the tribals.

Keeping the Maoist ideological rhetoric aside, the Naxalbari movement in India started due to the alleged faulty implementation of agrarian policies and land reform measures. With the penetration of development and social justice in the rural and tribal heartlands of India, Centre is gradually breaking the momentum of Naxalism. A total of 1,210 alleged Naxals surrendered in 2016, up by 270 percent from the 327 surrenders in 2015.

On the other hand, Islamist insurgency is fueled by the ideology of ‘jihad’, which antagonises not only democracy but the concept of nation itself. As articulated by Hizbul Mujahideen commander Rashid Naik, “We are not fighting for the cause of nationalism or freedom. Our struggle is to implement Shariah in Kashmir.”

The agent provocateurs in Kashmir, primarily the Lashkar-e-Toiba and Jaish-e-Muhammad, have reiterated that the goal is not merely to “breakaway Kashmir from India, but to wage jihad against the land of kufr (disbelievers)”. Pakistani scholar and hardline Islamist Zaid Hamid claims, “Reclaiming Kashmir, our jugular vein, is only the first step for Pakistan. We should be prepared to fulfill the prophecy of Ghazwa-e-Hind (final conquest by leaders of Islam to conquer India).”

… By Mohammed Uzair Shaikh — as published in