Homeland Security

Tackling Maoists : the Andhra paradigm
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Issue Vol 25.2 Apr-Jun2010 | Date : 25 May , 2013

We have presently reached this stage in our country. The Maoists, respective State Governments, and the Central Government have all become aware of each other’s strengths, but are not yet ready to raise the stakes any further and go all out for the required push which is essential to achieve total victory.

The Situation in Andhra Pradesh during the Nineties and Early Part of this Decade

The newly formed Telugu Desam had stormed to power in 1989 creating a world record for the shortest period after registration as a political party, for an entity to win an election. Many populist schemes were undertaken by NT Rama Rao during his first stint as CM, and he enjoyed vast mass support. During his next term in office after winning power again in the 1994 elections, many deviations and laxity of administration set in, besides family squabbles, which culminated in his being unseated and the reins of power going to N Chandrababu Naidu in 1995 who was an astute politician and a strong administrator. Simultaneously the Maoist organisations became strong all over Andhra Pradesh. Many youths flocked to this movement both as over-ground workers as well as in the ranks of the underground armed cadres. A parallel administration was created in many Mandals (Taluks). But Chandrababu Naidu also rose to the occasion and tackled the bull by the horns. Being not part of the Central Government, he did not expect much help from the Centre nor did he wish to be overly dependant.

The sustained campaign carried out by the Andhra Pradesh State Police during 2005 to clear the Nallamalla Hills region in the heart of Andhra Pradesh encompassing the adjacent forested areas of Kurnool, Prakasam, and Kadapa districts is a classic success story in counter insurgency operations in India “¦

After several brainstorming sessions with his close advisers and noted security experts, he decided upon a two pronged approach of re-establishing the writ of the civil administration and ensuring that developmental works are pursued, and secondly strengthening and revitalizing the Police Force whatever be the costs. The Andhra Pradesh Police Force underwent a total transformation in its work culture and level of accountability and within a year’s time started showing results against the Maoists. They gained the upper hand against the entrenched Maoists who then either laid low or migrated to neighbouring States, or got eliminated.

This activist policy was continued by his successor YS Rajasekhara Reddy of the Congress who won the elections in 2004. YSR’s entire focus was on the upliftment of the rural population. He spent the colossal sum of Rs 50,000 crores in setting up new irrigation schemes and improving the existing ones over a period of five years. Slowly the peasants became Kulaks and benefited from State sponsored subsidies like free power, land allotments, heavily subsidized housing schemes, scholarships, free emergency ambulance service, very low cost Group Health Insurance Scheme (Arogyasri) – where the costs of treatment in any private hospital for any serious ailment was fully reimbursed to the poor.

The oxygen of the Maoists got turned off, as here was a Government which was totally focused on rural development and upliftment of the poor classes, even though urban development and industrial sectors were gravely neglected compared to the previous Telugu Desam government. But at no time was security ever neglected. The Central funding components could be tapped to the fullest extent for various schemes, and this helped the State to usher in even larger budgets. Andhra Pradesh today has the largest state budget in India, even bigger than that of Bangladesh.

AP Government’s Successful Methods Against the Maoists and Its Police Tactics

The State Police’s Intelligence Wing has been separated from the Police HQs and made an independent establishment reporting directly to the CM’s Office. It does not have any rigid territorial restrictions and can follow up any leads. The intelligence setup has been provided with competent officers, ample funds, and necessary technical backup. Next, most of the Armed Reserve Police Battalions have been converted into Commando Units and they come under the Greyhounds Grouping having a separate IG. All new Police inductees have to spend their first four years of service in these Greyhound Units before getting their transfer to the District Police Establishments. Meritorious service with the Greyhound Units has been made a mandatory requirement to get accelerated promotions, including for filling up of Grade I Officer Posts selection vacancies in the State Cadre.

The lesson learnt is that there is no armed insurgency in India which cannot be put down within two years, if the right proportion of forces differential is created and sustained locally for at least a period of six months.

All Greyhound personnel serving in Maoist affected areas were given 50 per cent additional Commando Pay as incentive. The Greyhounds Training School was revamped and new Training Courses and Methodologies introduced, which are conducted with strict devotion and supervision. Suitable training facilities have been built up at each Greyhounds Unit location for imparting refresher training. The concept of keeping one Administrative and Security Duties Company and one Training Company at all times in the Battalion HQ has been strictly implemented. Most importantly the remaining six companies were deployed as three Joint Operational Bases (JOBs) consisting of two companies each. Experience proved that single company deployment was not giving optimum operational results nor providing the necessary nucleus for the civil administration to function safely and effectively in the Maoist affected regions.

These JOBs in the heart of Maoist affected areas were located within mutually supporting distances. It was normal for a complete Greyhounds Battalion to be deployed within 1-2 gravely Maoist affected Mandal (Taluk) areas, as then they could operate without fear of IEDs, ambushes etc. Each such Greyhound JOB also had two Home Guard Platoons who were recruited from amongst the locals. Over a period of time, they acted as guides, interpreters etc, besides performing most of the routine garrison functions, thus freeing the Greyhounds for ‘area domination’ and ’seek encounter’ patrolling operations. Each Greyhound JOB could send out upto four platoon strength patrols out, at any given time. Hostel facilities were created within the JOB for the Government officials of various rural development departments as well as for contractors and their staff to stay and work in total safety.

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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

Col JK Achuthan (Retd.)

8 GR was commissioned in June 1980. 

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