New Delhi: Maoists have killed one civilian every two days this year, most of them tribals branded “police informers”. The majority of the victims were tortured before being killed, with a few cases of beheadings in Chhattisgarh similar to those carried out by the Islamic State terror group.
At least 21 incidents have been reported from across Bihar, Jharkhand and Odisha of CPI (Maoist) cadres blasting the offices of local contractors and targeting their staff. The districts that reported the highest number of civilian killings, include Sukma (8); Narayanpur and Gadchiroli (7); Kanker and Malkangiri (5); and Chatra (4). In all, Naxalites had killed 62 civilians by April 30, 2017 — of these, at least 30 were executed by ‘Janatana sarkars’ or kangaroo courts as “instant punishment”.
April has been the bloodiest month, with 21 killings, followed by 16 in February, 13 in January and 12 in March. Incidentally, April was also the month 25 CRPF personnel were martyred in a Maoist ambush in Sukma.
Interestingly, local Maoists were found to have murdered civilians largely to exact revenge for old family disputes or to settle personal scores, even though they masked the killings as punishment for ‘police informers’.
After most killings, Maoists leave behind notes warning local tribals of “similar consequences” if they work as informers for counter-Naxalite forces.
In the last week of April, one Sewa Ram Himachi was killed by the local area committee of CPI (Maoist) in Gadchiroli, Maharashtra, and a hand-written note left beside his body announced that he was being offered Rs 2,000 per month for persuading Naxalite cadres to surrender, reporting on their movements and hideouts, and training other police informers.
The note further warned tribals that they should not be swayed by monetary incentives to turn police informers, as that would cost them their “precious lives”.