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Final battle against Maoist terror – where Indian government stands

‘SAMADHAN’ can wipe out the Maoist terror. Two weeks after the deadly Maoist attack snuffed out the lives of 25 CRPF personnel, this is what Home Minister Rajnath Singh said yesterday at a review meeting of the states affected by Left-Wing Extremism (LWE).

As he defines ‘SAMADHAN’, S stands for Smart Leadership, A stands for Aggressive Strategy, M stands for Motivation and Training, A stands for Actionable Intelligence, D stands for Dashboard Based Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and Key Result Areas (KRAs), H stands for Harnessing Technology, A stands for Action plan for each threat, N stands for No access to Financing.

Chief Ministers of ten Maoist affected states, Director General of Police of the Maoist infested states, District Magistrates and Superintendents of Police of 35 worst-hit Maoist-affected districts, National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi, Director of Intelligence Bureau and paramilitary forces and intelligence agencies attended the meeting.

e have many such meetings in the past. Therefore only the meetings or new acronyms can’t solve the intractable menace, provided every minutes of meeting be converted into actions. Currently, this is what is being planned:

Integrated strategy

The Home Minister stressed on an integrated strategy, emphasised on “unity of purpose” and spoke of a unified coordination and command to counter the Maoism.

“Along with strategic command, unified command is required at the operational and tactical level, besides intelligence sharing which was equally important,” Singh said.

“We have to bring aggression in our policy, there should be aggression in our thinking, aggression in our strategy, aggression in the deployment of security forces, aggression in operations, aggression in bringing development, aggression in road construction. We will have to be cautious that extremely defensive deployment may result in reduction of operational offensive,” he said.

The Home Minister said the states take the ownership in the anti-Maoist operations where Central Armed Police Force will cooperate fully. But, how many lives of CRPF personnel are lost before we have a single command for anti-Maoist operations across state borders?

Choking finances

In a much needed approach, the Centre is planning to choke the supply of funds to Maoists. A study by Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses estimated that the annual fund raising of the CPI (Maoist) through means such as extortion is a whopping Rs 140 crore annually.

The Maoists raise funds through donations, levy and extortions. No wonder, after the demonetisation drive in November last year, the Maoist funding suffered a severe setback. But, meanwhile, they have cultivated new source of funding. The Centre has identified illegal mining, poppy cultivation and extortion among the activities funding the Maoists.

“Economic resources play an important role in any war. Therefore, choking the financial resources of the left wing extremists is the most basic mantra in this fight,” the Home Minister said.

Maoist violence: Situation improving?

As many as 12,000 citizens had lost their lives in Maoist violence over the last two decades and of these, 2,700 are security personnel and 9,300 are civilians. The list of Maoist attacks is long.

On March 11 this year, the Maoists killed 12 CRPF personnel in the Sukma district of Chhattisgarh. In May 2013, the Maoists had attacked a Congress convey in Bastar district of Chhattisgarh, killing 25 Congress leaders. Senior Congress leader Mahendra Karma, the founder of Salwa Judum (a vigilante movement against Maoists), and former Union Minister Vidya Charan Shukla were among those killed. In April 2010, 75 CRPF personnel were killed in a Maoist ambush in Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh. In February 2010, the Maoists killed 24 personnel of the Eastern Frontier Rifles (EFR) in West Bengal’s West Midnapore district. The EFR personnel were in their sleep when the attack happened.

Several such attacks took place in Chhattisgarh, Odisha and Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra in the past.

Arguably, since 2014, there is a decline in Maoist attacks, decrease in the killing of security forces, decline in civilian casualty and increase in number of Maoists killed. Available data points to the fact.

Source: Home Ministry

Source: Home Ministry [pdf]
Earlier, there were 106 districts affected by Maoism. It has come down to 68 now. However, there is a long way to go.

The final battle

It is time the nation drew the final battle lines in the war against the Maoists. It is time India fought and won its last battle against the Maoists. There are two ways, the state can fight the war and the both should go in tandem.

One, the government must expedite its development push in the Maoist infested areas. The Maoists, who look for safe sanctuaries to run their activities, are scared of development because they use lack of development as a facade to exploit the innocent tribals and carry out their activities. Once, development reaches deep into the Maoist hinterland, the Left ultra will finally lose their constituency.

The government is precisely working towards it. The Union Home Ministry has given a go ahead for the construction of a whopping 5,412 km-long road connecting 44 Maoist-affected districts in nine states – Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Telangana, Bengal and MP. In addition, reports suggest that 2,178 mobile towers of 2,199 built are already operational in the red corridor.

Second and the most crucial and urgent means to fight the Maoist menace is the state must go for an all out war and crush the Maoist terrorists ruthlessly.

Maoists are terrorists and there should not be any further debate about it. There is no difference between the Maoists and their Islamic counterparts in Pakistan. In fact, well-known global intelligence company Stratfor had revealed that Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) forged an alliance with the Maoists in a bid to destabilise the Indian state.

The Maoists are waging a war against the nation. They are a brute bunch of anti-nationals out to break India. They mock at the Constitution of India. They seek to destroy our republic, the fabric of our democracy and our rule of law.

The Leftist jholawallah noise notwithstanding, it is time to show no mercy to Maoists. Like their Islamist counterpart in Pakistan, Maoists only understand the language of bullets, bombs and drones. India must win the war against Maoists.

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Saswat Panigrahi
Political writer, policy observer.

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