Dealing With Naxal+Ism: Development and Discontent
Naxalism is seen as the single largest internal security challenge ever faced by the country.
Of the 13 affected states, the movement is intense in outskirts of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, while it is making inroads in Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Uttarahchal andHaryana. There is growing professionalism in Naxal ranks and their attacking strategy.
The Naxal violence to be a mere law and order problem and it needs to be tackled as a socio-economic problem.
The Naxalites will continue to breed internal unrest and upset peace till such time the economic inequalities are not addressed.
The poorest of our people are concentrated in the Naxalite belt from Bihar's borders with Nepal to Rayalseema in Andhra Pradesh.
Unless their grievances are addressed speedily, their resentment and anger would continue to fuel the Naxalites.
- Good governance and effective implementation of development programmes are the key elements to counter socio-economic causes of Naxalism.
- The changes in character and style of the movement must be recognized.
- There is growing militarization and superior army-style organization.This needs strengthening of local policing and intelligence gathering system. Competent officer's need to be posted in the Naxalism affected districts and areas with stable tenure.
- "Greyhounds" of Andhra Pradesh can serve as model to other affected states.
- Winning the confidence of local population is another important area.
In several meetings called by the Centre of affected states, it has emerged that---
- The drive against movement has often been hit by the lack of coordination between states and central intelligence agencies.
The positive outcome of these meetings has been that---
- The Centre has now made it clear that it will closely monitor the implementation of counter revolutionary strategies in different states.
- Earlier the Union Government's role was only confined to sending paramilitary forces, reimbursement security related expenditure to states and modernization of police.
Addressing the meeting of Chief Ministers of naxalism affected states, the Prime Minister said---
- “Our strategy to handle Naxal menace has to walk on two legs - one, to have an effective police response and at the same time focus on reducing the sense of deprivation and alienation".
Another important point by the Prime Minister was---
- "The police response is necessary so that the obligation of the Indian state to uphold public order is fulfilled. However, an effective police response does not mean that we need to brutalise the Indian state".
The time has come to translate Prime Minister's works into action to halt and curb the spreading of Naxalism and allow fruits of economic development to reach faster to the affected areas.
The Plight of Naxalism
NAXALITES operate in a vacuum created by inadequacy of administrative and political institutions, espouse local demands and take advantage of the prevalent disaffection and injustice among the exploited segments of the population and seek to offer an alternative system, of governance which promises emancipation of these segments from the clutches of 'exploiter' classes through the barrel of a gun.
Naxalite menace remains an area of serious concern. In 2005, naxalite violence claimed over 660 lives as against 566 casualties in 2004.While the quantum of naxal violence registered a marginal increase of 3.8 per cent in 2005 over 2004, resultant casualties went up by 18.1 percent. In 2005, the states of Bihar and Jharkhand witnessed a few high profile incidents like looting of weapons from the Giridih Home Guard training centre (Jharkhand) and the Jehanabad jail-break.
However, the overall naxal violence increased mainly in Andhra Pradesh due to stepped up violence by naxalites following their unilateral withdrawal from the peace talks and in Chhattisgarh mainly owing to greater offensive by naxalities to derail Salva Judum, a voluntary and peaceful anti-naxal movement by local people.
Available reports, suggest that CPI (Maoists) have been trying to increase their influence and activity in parts of Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Uttaranchal and also in new areas in some of the already affected states. After the merger of Communist Party Marxist Lennist-People's War (CPMLPW) and Maoist Communist Center of Iridia (MeCI) into CPI (Maoist) in September, 2004, they are reported to be trying to woo other splinter groups and have also consolidated their front organisations into 'Revolutionary Democratic Front' (RDF) and People's Democratic Front of India (PDFI) to intensify their mass contact programme.
Indian naxalite groups continue to sustain their fraternal and logistic links with Nepalese Maoists, though there are no strategic and operational links between the two.The naxalite leadership continues to pursue their ideology to wage protracted people's war through the armed struggle to capture political power, while a significant number of naxalite cadres are anti-social and criminal elements.
In the recent past, naxalite groups seem to lay greater focus on organising along military lines.
They are also acquiring contemporary weapons. Their constant effort is to upgrade technology and sophistication of, their armoury and techniques. The latest tactics adopted by the naxal outfits are to engage in simultaneous multiple attacks in large numbers particularly against police forces and police establishments. The overall counter action by the affected states. in terms of naxalites killed, arrested, surrendered and arms recovered from them achieved better results in 2005 and 2006 so far, however there is an urgent need to .. further improve and strengthen police response particularly by the states of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Bihar, Orissa, Maharashtra by improving actionableintelligence collection and sharing mechanisms and strengthening their police force~ on the pattern of SIB and Greyhounds in Andhra Pradesh.
The Government has taken the following measures to improve police force and development response to counter this threat.
Modernization of State Police:
Funds are given to the states under the Police Modernization Scheme to modernize their police forces in terms of modern weaponry, latest communication equipment, mobility and other infrastructure. The naxal affected states have also been asked to identify vulnerable police stations and outposts in naxal areas and take up their fortification under the Scheme.
Revision of Security Related Expenditure (SRE) Scheme in February, 2005:
The level of reimbursement under the Scheme was raised in February, 2005 from 50 per cent to 100 per cent and
new items like insurance scheme for police personnel, community policing, rehabilitation of surrendered naxalites, expenditure incurred on publicity have been introduced to counter propaganda of naxalites.
The scheme has enabled the states to improve ground level policing in the naxal affected areas.
Supply of Mine Protected Vehicles:
Keeping in view the increased casualties of police personnel and civilians caused by IED/land mine blasts, the naxal affected states have been provided 80 Mine Protected Vehicles (MPVs) under the Police Modernization Scheme. This supply has been streamlined by taking up the matter with the Chairman, Ordnance Factory Board.
Long-term deployment of Central Para Military Forces:
In order to supplement the efforts of the states in providing an effective response to the naxal violence, Central Para Military Forces have been deployed on a long term basis as requested by the affected states.
India Reserve Battalions:
The naxal affected states have been sanctioned India Reserve (IR) battalions mainly to strengthen security apparatus their level as also to enable them to provide gainful employment to the youth, particularly in the naxal areas.
Recruitment in Central Para Military Forces:
Recruitment in Central Para Military Forces:
In order to wean away the potential youth from the path to militancy or naxalism, recruitment guidelines have been revised to permit 40 percent recruitment in Central Para Military Forces from the border areas and areas affected by militancy or naxalism.
Protection of Railways:
In the wake of increased attacks on railway properties, the matter has been discussed with the Ministry of Railways so as to take appropriate preventive measures in this regard.
Salva Judum in Bastar region, Chhattisgarh:
An anti-naxal movement began in June, 2005 in Bastar region of Chhattisgarh as a spontaneous expression to pent-up anti-naxalite sentiments among the local people. The movement was triggered off by a meeting of eight villages at Tebmar village in district Bijapur, whereas the villagers expressed their unhappiness with the modus operandi of naxalites causing harassment and starvation of common villagers due to cutting off of employment opportunities. Salva Judum activists mobilized villagers/tribals against naxals through a series of rallies and meetings in naxal strongholds of the two blocks (Bijapur and Bhairamgarh) of Bijapur police district in South Bastar.
Keeping in view the importance of Salva Judum movement as a major bulwark in sustained campaign against naxals and view of the naxalite attacks on innocent Salva Judum activists, the state government has been advised to enhance the deployment of Security personnel in order to provide effective area domination, ensure safety of Salva Judum activists and strengthen security of relief camps.
Key Initiatives at the State Level
In order to ensure accelerated socio-economic development and delivery of justice, the naxalism affected states have been ordered to-----
- Ensure effective implementation of land Reforms, Panchayat (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act (PESA) and formulation of Resettlement and Rehabilitation (RR) Policy for displaced tribals.
- Improve governance and establish better delivery systems for people centric development in the LWE districts.
- Ensure proper and full utilisation of finances under various developmental schemes such as Bharat Nirman, MGNREGS, PMGSY, Mid Day Meal Scheme, and Right to Education and so on.
Backward Districts Initiative(BDI):
Since the naxalite meanace has to be addressed on the developmental front also, the Government has provided financial assistance to naxal affected districts under the Backward Districts lnitiative (BDI) component of the Rashtriya Sam Vikas Yojana (RSVY).
Under this Scheme, an amount of Rs 15 crore per year has been given to each of the districts for three years in order to fill in critical gaps in physical and social development in the naxal affected areas. Apart from these districts, other naxal affected areas/districts have also been included under the Backward Regions Grant Fund (BRGF) Scheme.
Tribal and Forest related issues:
In order to address the areas of disaffection among the tribals, the government has introduced the Scheduled Tribes (Recognition of Forest Rights) Bill, 2005,. In Parliament. Further, to facilitate social and physical infrastructure in the forest areas, Ministry of Environment and Forests has, as requested by the Ministry of Home Affairs issued general approval to allow such infrastructure by utilising up to 1 hectare of forest for non-forest purposes. The Ministry has also permitted upgradation of kutcha roads constructed into pucca roads.
Land reforms employment opportunities in the naxal areas:
Naxal groups have been raising mainly land' and livelihood related issues. If land reforms are taken up on priority and the landless and the poor in the naxal areas are allotted surplus land, this would go a long way in tackling the developmental aspects of the naxal problem.The states have been requested to focus greater attention on this area as' also accelerate people centric developmental activities and create employment opportunities in the naxal affected areas with. special focus on creation of physical infrastructure in terms of roads, communication, power as also social infrastructure such as schools, hospitals etc.
“Naxals---Surrender Cum Rehabilitation Scheme”
The Union ministry has requested to all the major naxalism affected states to strictly implement the ‘Naxals---Surrender Cum Rehabilitation Scheme’ for naxalites who actually wants to shun the violence and join the mainstream.
The Central Government views the naxalite menace as an area of serious concern. The Government remains firmly committed and determined to address the problem. Essentially, the state governments would need to pursue effective measures to further improve ground level policing and development response, besides countering the negative propaganda unleashed by naxalites, to contain and control this menace. The Central Government will continue to coordinate and supplement the efforts and resources of the state governments on both security and development fronts to meet The Internal Security Challenge posed by Naxalism.