Naxals: Reviewing Strategy for Peace?
Just as the Central government is debating the strategy of Green Hunt against the Naxals, the Naxal hierarchy seems to be divided on having talks with the government with reports of some opposition to the violent approach as it is seen to cause great harm to the Maoist cause due to harassment of locals at the grass roots. That all this is happening in February is ominous as it is a month for conferences in India with the climate most favourable, a host of talk shops hold international seminars and symposiums in the country. Ironically the Naxals also have their annual convention in February each year and 2010 is no exception.
This division in any organization is not without precedence, while at present the hard liners in the Naxals, Kishenji and Ganapathy who leads the overall struggle are on ascendancy, the group with possible linkages with some state level political leadership want a truce. How strong this grouping is at present is not known but given the antagonism being caused in the locals particularly after the brutal attack on the police camp in Silda recently and frequent disruption to train traffic over the past many months due to bandhs, hold ups and attacks on the railway, this group is having a better pulse of the ground reality.
The Naxals who are adept at political posturing have proposed four conditions which they know no government would accept or can legally proceed such as release of all political prisoners or cancellation of all mining contracts. Withdrawal of all police forces from Naxal areas is also not realistic. The basic principle on which the state can negotiate with the rebels has to have congruity in aims and ideologies for a compromise. Here there is neither any common aim nor a common ideology that has been formed for talks between the two parties. Under the circumstances it is only once the Maoists are defeated and realize that the cause that they are fostering is not achievable on one hand, and the state meets the grass roots demands of empowerment of the people that a compromise can be reached.
Maoists have also developed diverse expertise to clone sophisticated weapons, including assault rifles of AK series. This was noticed when a CRPF team busted an arms manufacturing unit in forests close to Gobardaha village in Chatra district in Jharkhand and recovered a number of ‘duplicate’ AK-47 and AK-57 rifles of “high standard”. The official said, “Though security forces have busted other arms manufacturing units of the Maoists in Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh in the past, they have for the first time come across such sophisticated weapons of high standard, manufactured by the ultras.” In Andhra Pradesh in 2006 a huge stock of rocket shells and launchers was recovered from a manufacturing unit in the state.
Ironically even as the Maoists are able to manufacture look alikes of AK 47 rifles which are the most preferred assault weapons for soldiers in the counter insurgency environment the Indian soldier and the counter insurgent police man is saddled with the INSAS rifle which has many defects and which is grossly unsuitable for counter terrorist operations and urban warfare where a light and agile assault weapon is preferred. The Maoist weapon cannot be expected to be highly sophisticated but if this can be produced in the jungles, there should be no reason why a more advanced version cannot be launched by the DRDO. On the other hand the level of sophistication that is now being attained by the Maoists needs to be seen with alarm.
Ultimately the government would have to continue a two pronged approach, talks with those who are willing to do so and combat those as Kishenji who speak through the barrel of the gun, however this clear cut distinction is not likely to emerge in the near future. For this the primary necessity would be that of capacity building and the Central and State home ministry should be focused on the same in the future for as the Silda camp attack showed, the police in West Bengal in particular are not prepared to face the challenge from the guerrillas who have attained a military character.
So before the fancy ideas of Green Hunt are implemented, a reality check on the police capacity is necessary. This will avoid poorly trained and low motivated police men facing the wrath of the Naxals.
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Col. Rahul K. Bhonsle
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