Defeating Naxalism: Hope or Apathy?

Indian Home Ministry sources indicated that during the first three months of 2007, 395 Naxal incidents took place as against 431 during the corresponding period last year. 209 people were killed as against 212 in the corresponding period last year. This may denote a decline in the number of incidents by 8.3 percent, but the marginal decline in the numbers killed which statistically speaking cannot even be converted into reasonable percentages should be a cause for concern.

In ongoing operations, the Central Reserve Police Force killed five Maoist guerrillas in Garwah district, village Tutitola in a raid on a rebel hideout in Jharkhand. This is one of the first offensive successes for the CRPF in the state of Jharkhand. So far the police had employed only defensive tactics of holding posts and piquet's, hence this change is welcome. But how far this will translate into a turn of the tide is too early to say.  

In Bihar the police recovered a large quantity of explosives from Gaya district. Amit Jain, Superintendent of Police, said police have recovered 500 kg of explosives from a village in the Mohanpur police station area, about 125 km from here. The area is considered to be a stronghold of the outlawed Communist Party of India-Maoist. The bags indicated that the explosives had been brought from Hyderabad in Andhra Pradesh. Police suspect Maoist guerrillas had dumped the explosives.

In renewed Naxal violence in Chattisgarh, nine policemen were killed when members of the banned Naxal outfit CPI (Maoists) triggered a series of landmine blasts targeting a 12-member police party in Bastar district of Chattisgarh. The Maoists carried out a two dozen blasts on 28 May when motorcycle-borne policemen during anti-Naxal operations were passing through the Kudur area, about 435 kilometers from Raipur.

In an interview with the Times of India, General Secretary of the CPM and chief of the Naxalite movement in India, Ganapathy indicated that the general direction of the movement was, 'to intensify people's war, taking it to all fronts. In particular, the Congress decided to take guerrilla war to a higher level of mobile war in areas where it is in an advanced stage and expand it to more states. Destruction of enemy forces is on the immediate agenda. Likewise, there is an immediate need to transform a vast area into a war zone so that there is enough room for maneuverability for our guerrilla forces'.

He also indicated that the organization was involved in issues such as countering SEZs, acquiring fertile farmland and large projects. The Naxal influence is evident in the increase in militancy of movements witnessed recently in SEZs in Kalinga Nagar, Singur, Nandigram, Lohandiguda or Polavaram. He also showed some solidarity with Islamic militants such as the Hezbollah and indicated that this was a movement against the forces of globalization which supported capitalists and large business houses in the country.

On the other hand the Home Minister, Mr. Shivraj Patil indicated on 15 May that the Naxalite were working in close coordination with some terrorist outfits operating in J&K and were also in touch with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE) of Sri Lanka. 'Though the government has no documentary evidence of any memorandum of understanding signed between international terror outfits with Naxalite in the country, we have enough information suggesting that there is coordination between them,' the Home minister Shivraj Patil said in the Lok Sabha during zero hour.

Patil said it was difficult for the government to interfere in security matters in some states as the dispensation there did not take it very kindly. He said this in an oblique reference to the Naxalite problem in Chattisgarh, which, according to him, accounted for 40%-60% of all Naxal incidents in the country. He said the government had provided UAVs to anti-Naxal paramilitary forces deployed in the state which has so far only been used by the Army to gather intelligence on movement of ultras.

Despite massive injunction of funds and enhanced policing, the Naxal threat is not receding and may increase in varied forms and over a larger area in the days ahead as has been denoted by Ganapathy. The Government efforts are also stymied by political and bureaucratic considerations with law and order as a concurrent subject, states tend to get away with doing less but seeking more resources. Chattisgarh is a typical example as alluded to by the Home Minister which has not been able to utilize its resources judiciously and thus continues to be at the receiving end of terror.

There is a need for increased vigilance particularly in major metros as well as smaller townships in Central and parts of Southern India where Maoists have a presence. The linkages which have been established with other terror outfits in the region as well as the political and ideological alignment shown by the Maoists towards Islamic fundamentalists as the Hezbollah is a trend which needs to be observed with caution in the days ahead. Though there does not appear to be any material linkages the ideological inspiration drawn would gradually lead to the Naxalite attempting to adopt similar tactics as the Hezbollah.  


More by :  Col. Rahul K. Bhonsle

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