They are the eyes and ears of the security forces combing the dense forests in search of the Maoists. But when these informers become the target of the rebels, not many come to know about their contribution to the anti-Maoist operation launched by the security agencies. The Maoists have devised a new tactic to dent the operations of the security forces and hurt the morale of the villagers living in the Red-hit areas, in one blow. They are targeting the informers in the villages who keep the security-men updated about the movements of the rebels. This is proving to be a big setback for the security agencies which are heavily dependent on their local information network.
In the last few years, the number of informers killed by the rebels is almost equal to the number of security personnel killed in the Maoist-hit states. In the last four years, on an average, more than 200 informers have been killed every year. According to official records, from 2008 to 2011, 920 informers were killed by the Maoists.
The number exceeds 1,000 if one takes into account the killings till October 2012. The number of security personnel killed from 2008 to 2011 is close to 1,200, while the count of civilians becoming a victim of Left-wing extremism in the same period is 2,270. Of the total civilians killed, 920 have been claimed to be the informers of security forces. The targeting of informers is becoming a major concern for the ministry of home affairs. “This appears to be a well-planned strategy of the Maoists.
Our forces are always dependent on the locals for information regarding rebels’ movement and other operations. By eliminating them, the Maoists are hurting our operations,” said a ministry official. Sources said by killing people who are willing to cooperate with the security forces, the Maoists are also instilling fear among the locals, keeping them from interacting with the forces. “The message is loud and clear. Either you are with us or with them. And anybody who is seen helping the security agencies is killed,” said an official.
“The idea is to dry up all sources of information and then confront the forces with fresh attacks so that they are caught on the backfoot. Since they can’t always attack the security forces directly, they target the locals and at times brand them as informers,” said Prakash Singh, former director general of the Border Security Force. The sources said the reason why security forces have to depend on locals is because the police’s response is often lukewarm when it comes to cooperation in anti-Maoist operations. Security experts also see this as a major cause of concern.
Ved Marwah, former director general of the National Security Guards, said the Maoists’ plan is to demoralise the residents as well as the forces. “People’s support is anyway not forthcoming and if the ones who are coming forward are going to become easy victims, then it is a big worry. The government should come up with measures to give these informers or local supporters some incentives and also provide them security,” he said.