It is now almost 11 years since the two underground Maoist groups the Peoples War Group and Maoist Communist Centre decided to merge together to form the current Naxal organisation. They are continuing to have sway over approximately 180 districts and six states of India on pan Indian basis. In these eleven years first the Congress lead UPA Government for a decade and now the BJP led NDA Government for last one year have been dealing with this problem with no appreciable positive results. Till date there is no clear cut policy of how to deal with Naxals meanwhile the police and paramilitary personnel are getting killed in bulk. It is time Modi government looks at this issue seriously.
…in just Chhattisgarh alone more than 1000 police persons have lost their lives with no matching Naxal casualties.
In second week of April this year the Naxals carried out four daring attacks on police and paramilitary forces in Chhattisgarh state in just three days. On 11 April they ambushed a 67 strong STF force of Chhattisgarh police killing seven constables including a platoon commander. The very next day they burned 17 heavy trucks being used for mining and attacked a BSF camp in Kanker district of Chhattisgarh killing one constable. On 13 April they destroyed an anti mine vehicle in Dantewada of Chhattisgarh again of Chhattisgarh police killing five constables. In all these ambushes 13 police constables have been injured.
All the police people who have been killed, their most modern weapons including grenade launchers have been looted by the Naxals at the same time not a single Naxalite has been killed or captured. Later on the Chhattisgarh police dramatically produced a so called Naxal commander who wanted to surrender and who disclosed that about 20 Naxals have been also killed.
This is pure police drama because if 20 Naxals have been killed than it is next to impossible to carry their bodies and weapons by their colleagues when a fire fight is on as claimed by the police. The story of this ambush as trotted along by the police has the same familiar ring of this party of 67 police persons which is quite a large one, being surrounded by more than 500 Naxals and attacked.
Police must answer that if they were following proper jungle warfare drills and were moving on a wide front in section level file formations in touch with each other by walkie talkie how all of them be surrounded? Besides the only anti ambush drill in this case is to immediately attack the ambushing force of the Naxals. That would have ensured the shock and awe and Naxals would have been forced to run leaving behind their dead. Needless to say this was not done and the said police force of 67 which is a large contingent did not react as a well honed and trained team. That is why not only they suffered casualties but also lost their weapons.
The Naxal movement is a pan India movement with a centralised command, how it can be fought state wise by the police forces who have the state boundary restrictions while the Naxals are free to move from one state to another?
It should be known that in just Chhattisgarh alone more than 1000 police persons have lost their lives with no matching Naxal casualties. This just goes to prove lack of training, lack of proper leadership and absence of a well coordinated action plan by the higher police headquarters. It also brings out absence of a long term coordinated policy to deal with the Naxals at the state and centre level.
When Mr Chidambaram was the home minister he had come out with his plan of Operation Green Hunt against Naxals which had three stages of implementation. First police forces to clear the affected districts of Naxal domination second the local administration to move in with honest officers third the local administration to go all out for development of the area. This plan initially did succeed but later on due to political interference and corruption at lower level it lost steam.
Currently six states, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, parts of Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and MP are Naxal affected. Policy which is currently being followed by the centre is to dish out its central paramilitary forces to various states and it is the state police big wigs who run the anti Naxal operation. This policy is totally faulty. The Naxal movement is a pan India movement with a centralised command how it can be fought state wise by the police forces who have the state boundary restrictions while the Naxals are free to move from one state to another? In addition each state have their political priorities as such their anti Naxal operations are not similar. Finally anti Naxal operation is a full scale jungle guerrilla operation, what training if any the senior state police officers have to deal with it?
Time has come now for our politicians both from the centre and states to look at this problem in a joint manner and take the advice from the army which has been fighting insurgency successfully since independence in this country. They have taught even the US and Russian armies to fight insurgency in their jungle warfare institutions in India so what problem our police forces have to get trained there? The separate empire buildings in our country must stop as it leads to wasteful expenditure. Let spades be called spades. Need of the hour is for the Indian Home Minister and the Naxal affected states home ministers to sit to gather to formulate a joint policy for anti Naxal operation.
Best is to raise a new central paramilitary force under the leadership of Army as is the case with the Rashtriya Rifles and Assam Rifles who are successfully leading anti insurgency operations in J&K State and Manipur.
First thing to be done is to form a joint command to include centre and state home minsters duly advised by the senior army and police officers. This joint command should have under its jurisdiction all the Naxal affected areas of the country which should be declared disturbed. The police and paramilitary forces operating here should be honed into one force with suitable training and SOPs. Instead of dishing out paramilitary forces that are better equipped and trained to states the responsibility of dealing with Naxals should be given to one central paramilitary force with state police assisting them. Currently there is assortment of paramilitary forces in this operation. Best is to raise a new central paramilitary force under the leadership of Army as is the case with the Rashtriya Rifles and Assam Rifles who are successfully leading anti insurgency operations in J&K State and Manipur. In the joint command the role of respective state police forces should be to assist the paramilitary force dealing with the insurgency. Senior Army officers should be appointed in advisory role to this force.
The civilian administrative teams under the respective district magistrates should take on development once the district is made Naxal free. The joint command which include the home ministers of the states or their elected representatives should be accountable for the development work without any local political interference. The respective state police forces and the central paramilitary force must have their own sound intelligence system and intelligence grids. The corruption must be strictly checked and heads must roll where it is found that some organisations are found lacking. The accountability must be fixed. The aim should be to win the hearts and minds of the local people. No insurgency can survive without local support. Need of the hour is honest coordinated action if we want country to be rid of Naxals.