Homeland Security

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

Each Greyhound JOB always had a Dy SP/Asst SP ranked Class I Gazetted Officer as In Charge. This created a sea change in the environment and ensured accountability for maintaining sustained operations. Within a few months itself, the Maoists started feeling asphyxiated as their domination ended.

Another important functional aspect was that the Greyhounds did not report to or work under the District Police set up. The Greyhound Units reported to the Special DIG HQ In Charge for that Maoist affected Region, overlapping- several adjacent districts. Their operations were supplemented by adequate Technical Intelligence Teams working under this Special DIG HQ, which could intercept any wireless transmission made by the Maoists and do the Direction Finding Fix. With the advent of cellular phones, they also specialized in tracking down Maoist locations using fixes made from two or more cell phone Towers. This enhanced the accuracy of directed response, and reduced the time lag for the Greyhound patrol teams to make active contact with the Maoist Dalams. The credit for developing the Greyhounds’ organization, selection, training and successful tactics primarily goes to their then IG Dr Durga Prasad, who could out-think and outwit the well entrenched Maoists and also keep progressively adapting.

At this rate the Maoist problem will soon start pulling down the countrys favourable GDP growth rate by at least one to two per cent.

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, worth being emulated by even the Indian Army in J&K. The Maoist Dalams were well embedded in this region for over 15 years and nobody from the Government dared to go into these areas. Four Greyhound Units working under a single Special DIG HQ established 13 JOBs covering the mountainous and forested terrain of approximately 5000 sq km. This works out to an area coverage of approximately 400 sq km per JOB at the peak of operations. The Maoists reacted very violently with great stealth, IED blasts, assassination of locals, and planned ambushes. But within a matter of six months, the weekly attrition rates started taking their toll and their cadres got demoralized, as they had to keep running in the jungles constantly without getting shelter and sufficient help from the habitated areas.

The Greyhounds went on improving in their tactics and morale. Their losses were few and were immediately replaced in both men and equipment. After a year’s time there were no more Maoists left in this area and they were forced to give up this legendary bastion. Thereafter the Greyhounds strength there was reduced to one half of the original deployment. After the period of active operations was over, the Greyhounds deployment in the JOBs was never brought down to below Company strength for very sound operational and functional reasons, and the Maoists have so far not ventured to come back into this erstwhile ‘liberated’ zone. The relieved Greyhound Units have been redeployed onto the other Maoist affected interstate border areas, where they have repeated their operational successes and driven the Maoists out of AP. The neighbouring States then started requesting the Greyhounds to operate across the border.

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. After wiping out the insurgents in a particular area, 50 per cent of the Security Forces can be redeployed to another area to create the right Forces differential there. The French treatise ‘Pacification Operations in Algeria’ written in 1963 by Col David Galuta clearly summarized counterinsurgency as “80 per cent protection of the civil population by cutting down ‘unrisky access’ to them by the insurgents, and the balance 20 per cent of the effort to be directed in maintaining a steady and sustained attrition rate – on weekly and monthly basis.” At no cost should the first cleared target region be left totally denuded of Security Forces deployment, otherwise within a matter of a few months, insurgency conditions will be back to previous levels, and the hard won gains would have soon got frittered away.

The Economics and Good Governance Aspects of the Anti Maoist Offensive in AP

What Chandrababu Naidu perfected as the new Police methodology to tackle and root out the armed Maoist groupings, this has been exceeded in far greater measure and significance by his successor, the Late YS Rajasekhar Reddy (YSR) in his epochal shifting of the direction of State spending towards the Rural Sector, creation of additional irrigation potential (Jalayagnam Scheme), and several Poverty Alleviation Programmes never before seen in India since Independence. The total allocations for Rural Sector activities are double that of for all the Urban Sector – Infrastructure Development, and Industrial Promotion activities combined. This approach had not only brought rich political dividends, but also has knocked the winds out of all Maoist and Naxalite ‘ground level organizers’ even in the most remote hamlets.

The popular saying goes that though the roads in Andhra Pradesh may still be full of potholes, and the urban areas perhaps the dirtiest, but in the rural areas there is not a single member of a poor household who has not benefited from at least three of the following freebies – viz seven hours of assured and free electricity for agricultural activity, free low cost house, 25 kg of heavily subsidized rice for each household, Very Low Cost (and all encompassing) Health Insurance Scheme (Arogyasri), Reimbursement of Higher Education Fees for low income families, and anyone type of Social Welfare Pension for the Aged or Destitute. YSR never gave the least opportunity or space to his political detractors to exploit any popular resentment, and he was always found touring and checking the progress of development activities in all the districts of this vast State.


Tackling the long-standing and burning issue of armed Maoist violence and unquestioned domination of the vital raw materials producing regions of the country has become an urgent national issue which can no longer be procrastinated or wished away.

The Maoists have cleverly played upon the sentiments and decades of developmental neglect experienced by the poor people in remote regions, to build up a strong base of sympathizers, dedicated over-ground workers, and most significantly – armed Dalams consisting of battle hardened cadres who have already tasted success and have no fear of the Security Forces. They can now converge into Battalion or Brigade sized groupings at their time and place of choosing. With each passing day the Police Forces of the affected States grow more limp and hold the Maoists in greater dread. The Maoists are clearly winning the battle of the mind and they only have to wait to increase in strength. At this rate the Maoist problem will soon start pulling down the country’s favourable GDP growth rate by at least one to two per cent.

It is true that Law and Order is a State subject, but the Centre cannot wash its hand away, especially in areas where there is no law and order left and the affected States are asking for help. Anti-Maoist operations cannot be treated like the hurried and non-organic additional deployment of Paramilitary Forces during election time. It is no point assigning some additional number of PMF Companies collected from different Units from many parts of the country, to be placed at the disposal of the district administration for short periods. The district police set up have neither the competence nor the required focus and skills to carry out full fledged anti-insurgency operations at their level. What is essentially required is to work out the ‘CI Grid deployment’ based on JOBs, and the State Police/Central PMF Special DIG HQs should be made in charge of operations, as had been done in Andhra Pradesh. To ensure accountability, coordination, and willing cooperation of all the available Forces, there is the dire need to set up a single empowered DG level HQ of the Central PMF to coordinate with the respective State Police HQs.

There should be a method worked out so that the deployment of the Central Home Ministry Forces should not last more than a period of two years, during which time the State Police Forces must get sufficiently built up and trained on the Greyhounds pattern, to relieve them permanently. This implies that the deployment pattern of the Central PMFs has to change every year, so that the correct Forces differential can be created in the specified areas. The PMFs have the obvious disadvantage of not knowing the local language and customs, therefore adequate local State Police or Home Guards should be attached to them. The Maoist menace can surely be defeated by adopting a pan-India activist and sustained developmental approach, piecemeal and sporadic campaigns will surely fail miserably.

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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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