A series of incidents involving the banned Communist Party of India (Maoists) in recent weeks, including the abduction of Alex Paul Menon, District Collector of Sukma in Chhattisgarh on Saturday, are a wake-up call for the State government to the threat posed by the Left extremists infiltrating from neighbouring States, intelligence agencies say.
Sources in the intelligence agencies told The Hindu here on Sunday that Maoists from Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and Tamil Nadu had been using the border areas of Kerala and Karnataka as a hideout ever since the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) launched what is called “Operation Green Hunt” against the Naxalites. Most of these fugitives had slowly moved to the jungles of the Western Ghats.
The sources said a tri-junction of Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, comprising Gudalur, Wayanad, Nilambur, Kodaikanal, Udupi, and Dakshina Kannada, had already developed into a “perspective area” for the CPI (Maoists) for building its organisational base. Plans were afoot to set up a “Dalam” (guerrilla squad) in Mananthavady after infiltrating the local populace and subsequently organising training camps.
The South India regional committee of the CPI (Maoists) started functioning at this tri-junction following the disbandment of its State units of Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka. Now several camps operated in Dakshina Kannada, Udupi and Chikmagalur districts in Karnataka. In March, the anti-Naxalite force of the Karnataka Police recovered a large cache of arms and ammunition in Dakshina Kannada. Maoist literature in Malayalam, Kannada, Tamil and Telugu was found from some of the abandoned camps.
Officials engaged in counterinsurgency operations said that Kerala was yet to constitute an elite force police led by an officer of the rank of Deputy Inspector General of Police especially to tackle any Naxalite problem. The commando wing of the State police could be used only in clandestine and destructive raiding.
Maoist-type operations required specific long-term solutions.
Sensing this, the Karnataka government has mooted that its anti-Naxalite unit get similar training given to the Commando Battalion for Resolute Action (COBRA), a paramilitary unit of the CRPF, for tackling Maoists groups.
Kerala needs to train a special police force in guerrilla warfare to be ready if at all the “Dalams” will develop and engage in a hit-and-run offensive against law-enforcing agencies and government officials.
The State police had cut a sorry figure when activists of the Ayyankkali Pada stormed the Palakkad Collectorate and held District Collector W.R. Reddy hostage for 10 hours in October 1996.
Such incidents cannot be ruled out as the Maoist strategy is to build its activities slowly from jungles to villages and urban areas, the sources said.