The person who kills his own countrymen most brutally and flaunts his weapons openly can not be “innocent and misguided”. No half-hearted measures can yield results. If we treat anti-Maoist operations as war, some bloodshed some mistakes are inevitable. The first principle of fighting this war successfully is to exonerate security forces of the collateral damage that would take place when they use force against the ‘enemy’. If the Maoists are treating it as war, why should the security forces operate with their one or both hands tied at their backs.
The ‘Peace Brigade’ of Maoist apologists in the form of their frontline political organisations, foreign-backed NGOs and their Indian beneficiaries, human rights organisations and misinformed Indian legal luminaries must be kept at bay. Security forces should be allowed to legally sue journalists and media for false publication of reports of rape, molestation and extortion. Willful distortion of facts by media persons should be made a non-bailable offence.
Once the problem is resolved the government must provide immunity from legal harassment to officers and men from flimsy charges. There have been cases in the past when police officers had to commit suicide. The case of Ajit Singh, a retired police officer of Punjab, comes to mind. At the height of militancy in Punjab, he was the hero of anti-militancy operations in Tarn Taran. This was the region where militants’ writ ran and it was a ‘Free Zone’ for them. He eliminated them with a heavy hand. But after the normalcy returned, he was so badly harassed by legal cases that he committed suicide.
Military strategy against the Maoists must be based on centralized coordination but decentralized execution. Intelligence apparatus must be effective to provide actionable, and intelligence.
One fails to see all these legal bodies and human rights organizations being active when terrorists/ militants play havoc with normal civil life. Do policemen and security forces have no human rights? Our legal system is a big dampener on the security forces operations.
Police, all over India, has become ineffective because of such lacunas in our legal system. Cases keep lingering on for decades. Witnesses and investigating officers are eliminated or compromised. There are for too many temptations, allurements, inducements and encouragements for the police officers to let the cases procrastinate. It is a time for the country to seriously ponder about police reforms and also distinguish between ‘law and order’ and internal security. Law and order must become part of internal security, which must be the Central Government responsibility. The state police ought to be vested with the responsibility of only crime investigation and law implementation.
Military strategy against the Maoists must be based on centralized coordination but decentralized execution. Intelligence apparatus must be effective to provide actionable, and intelligence. At tactical and strategic levels, half the battle is won if the information is precise, accurate and timely. Intelligence must be coordinated through a single agency.
In fact intelligence operations must be a part of the ‘Unified Command’ for anti-militancy/insurgency operations. Unified command would include military, paramilitary, police and other governmental resources of the central and state governments. Even the agencies conducting developmental activities must be dovetailed into Unified Command. This command must be the answerable to the Home Minister of India. The Defence Ministry should be left to deal with only external threat and security.
Counter-Militancy Grid (CMG) should be established in the Maoist infected areas. Once the CMG is created, there will not be easy interaction between the Maoists and the local populace. This will curtail the movement of the Maoists and contain them maoists into specific areas. CMG must also launch certain developmental activities to wean local population them away from the Maoists and their leaders.
CMG must begin its operations at low key initially to identify the militants and gain information. It is generally seen that any insurgent outfit has only 20-25 percent hard core cadres, who are generally the leaders. 75-80 percent are either wage earners for their families or they are coerced to join the militants. But the leaders, over a period of times get so much intoxicated with the powers they enjoy that they lose touch with the general public. Their contact is through these ‘errand boys’ who make 75-80 percent of their strength. The initial operations must be aimed at creating the wedge between these two classes of militants.
All operations must be ’small scale, target- based and unorthodox’. These three tenets are the key to successful conduct of operations. Large scale operations are predictable and cause a lot of hardships to the local people which lead to resentment against the security forces. The targets must be the leaders and not the small time cadres and operatives. Cadres should be arrested and released and to create suspicion about their future loyalty. This will create divisions amongst the militants.
Target-based operations are akin to ’searching a needle in the hay-stack’. There are two ways of doing it. One is to turn the hay stack upside down and put your men to locate it. It is time consuming, laborious and causes inconvenience to the general public. The other way is to have pin-pointed information of the needle’s location in the hay stack.
There would be lot of interference by visible and invisible organizations both Indian and foreign, to stall the security forces operations. The government of the day must stand up to it.