Homeland Security

Blueprint to tackle Maoists
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Issue Vol 25.3 Jul-Sep2010 | Date : 11 Mar , 2014


Confronted with the Maoist menace, Civil Administration’s incompetence is making mountain out of a molehill by suggesting induction of the military.

The threat posed by the Maoists to the Union cannot be compared to the LoC in Kashmir or the Northeast. On borders, there is direct support of the external players. Both, in terms of creeping invasion by Islamic fundamentalists that results in demographic changes, as well as, to infiltrate fundamentalists to equip and train the local sympathizers to subvert the Civil Administration. Couple this with the military threat posed by China and Pakistan directly. If the military dilutes its vigil on the volatile borders, Union of India will soon lose major chunks of its territory.

The biggest threat to India today is posed by Indians and not by the Chinese or Pakistanis.

This constitutes the primary role of the army.

The clamor by many to bring in the Army and the Air Force to resolve the Maoist threat ignores the key question: Is the threat posed gigantic enough to warrant deployment of the army? Or is the Civil Administration creating mountain out of the molehill because its level of incompetence is now beyond redemption?

The schedule and the resources required to host the Commonwealth Games by India were well considered at the time of bidding for the games. With barely 60 days left, we are not prepared. There was no threat posed by the Maoists, the Northeast insurgents or the terrorists to disrupt the preparations. Yet the Civil Administration flounders despite a well-defined objective and demands induction of 300 military personnel.

The same incompetence is visible in other aspects of the civil administration.

The same incompetence is visible in other aspects of the civil administration. Millions of ton of wheat procured at the taxpayer’s expense for distribution to the poor segment of society was allowed to rot in the rains. A state within the Union creates ‘counter insurgency’ school for the police without basic facilities like firing range and skilled officers to train personnel. Two courses pass out and declared ready to take on the Maoists! If the CRPF or the state police personnel remain unskilled, untrained and underequipped, and led by ‘incompetence’, causalities are bound to be high.

There are no bad units, only bad officers!

The security threat posed by the Maoists to the Union is relatively small compared to the externally supported insurgency and terrorism faced by the army in Kashmir and the Northeast. The known external support to the Maoists is very little, possibly because their activity is centered in the interior of India. They are more of a rag tag bunch that largely fight with weapons looted from the police armory, or are country manufactured. Due to Civil Administration’s abdication of authority, they successfully manage to loot police stations for weapons, attack jails and free inmates and run armament factories. These concessions conceded under duress amounts to dereliction of duty by the Civil Administration.

In the military such negligence will invite immediate court martial.

The turf wars to keep the military authorities at bay by the civil setup must stop, if they desire to ensure that the writ of the Union runs throughout the nation.

The Maoist threat rated as ‘biggest’ to the Union is not because the Maoists are better armed and financed than the Jihad Factory on our borders but due to the threat posed from within that disrupts the growth of the nation. A family or a nation that lacks harmony within is incapable of handling external threats. In somewhat similar circumstances, the Chinese conquered Tibet and the Maoists are poised to capture Nepal. With the American led Western Forces slated to withdraw from Afghanistan in July 2011, defence of India’s borders will demand extra military muscle. Nevertheless, India’s potential to outmaneuver both its adversaries is immense, provided the Civil Administration learns to govern efficiently.

In the first place, if the Civil Administration which implies the ‘Executive” was moderately competent, delivered justice, was responsive and enforced ‘rule of law,’ and did not allow the gradual slip of territories in to the hands of the miscreants, the problem would not have arisen.  The state true to the prevalent culture of ‘logic of convenience’ abdicated its responsibility by distributing arms to the locals to fend themselves in the garb of ‘Salwa Judum’. The common man, out of fear is forced to support the Maoists, in absence of protection from the legitimate local administration. The Maoists are made to look very tall due to the ineptitude and callousness of the administration. The poor generalship in 1962 by the military and the political leadership made the Chinese look very tall. The historical truism is that the Chinese have never won a war.

In somewhat similar circumstances, the Chinese conquered Tibet and the Maoists are poised to capture Nepal

The second key question: In the near future, in addition, will we ask the Indian Army to take over the running of Municipality, Commonwealth Games, health services, policing, or Kerala that is emerging as a terrorist hub, besides tackling the Maoists who almost control forty percent of the Union’s territory? Or do we take strong corrective measures to set right the Civil Administration, which is practically falling apart?

Our adversaries are aware that the Union of India is as strong or as weak as its army. They will be delighted to see the Indian Army diverted from its primary external role to resolve the internal strife. Such diversion will help the forty-two terrorist training camps running in PoK to shift to Srinagar! In any case, army with huge shortage of officers is already in an overstretch and any further deployment against Maoists will result in an extraordinary strain.

Two beefed up army divisions with integral air element is adequate to dismantle the Maoist infrastructure within one year. The civil administration projects it at seven years. This seven-time magnification is approximately the level of incompetence acquired since independence.

In the near future, in addition, will we ask the Indian Army to take over the running of Municipality, Commonwealth Games, health services, policing…

The third key question: After the army brings the situation under control- what next?

Once the army in a short time manages to restore the adverse situation, will the Civil Administration take over its responsibility to renew its writ and relieve the army for the more urgent primary role? The idea behind the induction of the Indian Army in the Northeast and J&K was again to restore the adverse situation and thereby create conducive environment for the political process to start. This was an enabler, but the Civil Administration spurned the gains. The Civil Administration in Kashmir, and not the army should carry out ‘Sadbhawana’ movement. The Indian Army initially met many reverses, but persevered, and finally got on to ‘top-of–the-situation’. However, the Civil Administration till date fails to take charge. The end result is that the Indian Army finds itself in a quagmire. It is mired in a role that is not primary to it.

This is one of the many reasons as to why the army should not get deployed to resolve the Maoist problem spread over forty percent of the land within. In such an eventuality the Civil Administration will never ever gear up to make itself competent, accountable and responsible for its primary task.

Once the army in a short time manages to restore the adverse situation, will the Civil Administration take over its responsibility to renew its writ and relieve the army…

The only reason that would justify army’s deployment is a scenario wherein the Maoist threaten to territorially split India from inside. Panic buttons are being pressed unnecessarily, due to a magnified illusion created out of sheer ineptitude. Luckily, time favors the Civil Administration to acquire and hone the essential skills to resolve the problem, since the menace largely has internal dimensions.

The final question: How to resolve or minimize the internal security threat to avoid a divided house while confronting the two front external threats?

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The views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of the Indian Defence Review.

About the Author

Bharat Verma

A former Cavalry Officer and former Editor, Indian Defence Review (IDR), and author of the books, India Under Fire: Essays on National Security, Fault Lines and Indian Armed Forces.

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2 thoughts on “Blueprint to tackle Maoists

  1. Dear Sir, you have made an interesting call there on the issue of Maoists. There is one issue I would disagree with and that is the idea of the Army holding large scale military exercises in the area. It won’t help for two reasons; the first is that political pressure might force the Governments hand to retain some portion of the Army in that area. Secondly the terrain doesn’t help in giving the Army a realistic experience as it’s different from our border areas and our eventual area of operations. Remember retaining the Army in Punjab post “Blue Star” caused a lot of damage to the intra personal relationship the Army had with the people of Punjab.
    Now coming to the issue of tackling the Maoists; the CRPF is an ill-trained and ill managed force to handle the Maoists and only becomes cannon fodder there. The Home minister’s idea of inducting another 3000 CRPF troops will be heyday for the Maoists. We need to get into operational mode and start raising a police force on the lines of the Special Forces Battalions of the Indian Army. We have to start from the scratch, new recruits specially selected for this force and a special lot of officers trained by the Indian Army. Don’t leave it to the IPS they can’t manage it nor do they have it in them to tackle this situation. Intelligence and tracking the Maoists is another issue, we need to raise special intelligence units suitably equipped to track the movement the Maoists groups. The police is police and they will keep mucking it up. Regards JP.

  2. Wouldn’t it be wise to deploy the army in Maoist infected area. Surly the CRPF, police and govt are not doing anything. No point in blaming others. Bring the army… clean up the situation and prepare your’e successors to do a better job. Agreed its the civil administration’s fault. But with every passing moment people are dieing. Whats the use of spending billions of dollars of taxpayers money to buy state-of-the art weaponry, planes if you are not using them. Surly China is not going too attack world’s second most populous state and eight largest economy. It will be a massacre. We are having a ever increasing amount of people of have a different idea of their own..do not follow the law…forget hinsa…armed with AK-47 and lethal land mines . This is no kid’s play. Before the Naxals eat up the country. We should eliminate them. Bring the country’s best.

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