Achievements Against Naxals: Real And The Imagined – Analysis
What goes up must come down.” Despite the drastic decline in the Naxal violence in 2012, applying this Newtonian logic to India’s most serious internal security challenge would be way too premature. While the prevailing state of affairs does provide some hope, it requires a sustained effort on part of the governments—New Delhi and the states—to further improve the security situation. To assume fatalistically that the Left-wing Extremism (LWE) problem would end on its own would be a serious mistake. LWE-related violence reached its lowest in 2012, ever since the Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) was formed by merging the People’s War Group and the Maoist Communist Centre in 2004.
Ability of the extremists to inflict violence on persons and institutions maintaining direct and indirect links with the state was somewhat contained. All denominators of Naxal strength and spread—holding of people’s courts and training camps—were down compared to 2011. Significantly, both the official statements and those by the Maoist propaganda units underlined losses to the “party”. Yet in this moment of perceived triumph, to assume that the core strength of the extremists has started disintegrating would be inaccurate.
The LWE movement, under the banner of the CPI-Maoist, has demonstrated three distinct strengths. One, the outfit has switched seamlessly between phases of intense action to phases of sporadic action. Second, subsequent to the loss of some of its senior leadership, it has managed to successfully enforce a strict regime of do’s and don’ts to prevent further losses. And third, its support as well as action bases— the People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army cadres and the over-ground workers/ sympathisers—have continually expanded, with the pace of such growth determined by prevailing ground situations.
I argue that the gains made by the state in 2012 have not made any significant impact on any of such abilities. Let’s turn our attention on three comparable details of the state successes against the extremists. First, the government claims to have regained some areas under Naxal control. Last year, CRPF chief Vijay Kumar, on the eve of his retirement, claimed that his forces have managed to free about 5,000 sq km of areas previously under extremist domination. While establishment of government control over such reclaimed areas is highly subjective, the fact remains that focused area operations, rather than the nationwide, multi-theatre Operation of the ‘Green Hunt’ variety, have produced successes.
The overall narrative of official conquest vis-a-vis the extremists is built around such small area operations in states like Jharkhand. Further, neutralisation of senior leaders in the Maoist hierarchy has produced serious leadership vacuum in the outfit, which according to the outfit itself, has been “difficult to fill”. Maoist publications have detailed the loss of over 100 cadres and leaders in 2011. And last, ideological as well as opportunistic splits, mostly in Jharkhand and Odisha, damaged the consolidated profile of the extremists.
Not surprisingly, the CPI-Maoist has called for preservation of its leaders and cadres and also, adoption of a new strategy of warfare. The strategy, which appears to have come into force in the second half of 2012, is a mix of old tactics as well as new. It aims at preserving cadres, carrying out surprise attacks targeting security forces and counter-Naxal vigilante forces, and maintaining a steady flow of newly recruited cadres into the outfit’s military wing. Attacks by Naxals have started using the novel method of planting explosives on dead bodies of security forces.
There is also a renewed attempt to internationalise alleged state brutalities. An international conference was held in Hamburg (Germany) in support of the people’s war in India in November 2012. Interestingly, under this strategy the outfit also continues to harp on its own weakness. An unusually high number of Naxal press releases, posted online in 2012, detailed the loss of cadres and leaders. The overall objective appeared to be directed at driving a sense of false victory and inertia among the establishment, thereby slowing down state initiatives.
While the military initiatives against the extremists may not have slackened, a serious casualty of this sense of victory now appears to be the state approach to developing the liberated areas. A key pillar of the twin official counter-Naxal strategy—initiating development activities in areas cleared of Naxal control—receives much less attention in official statements these days. The official anti-Naxal efforts have indeed reached a delicate stage. Unless handled with commitment, the gains made thus far can easily be frittered away.
Seven CRPF men injured in Jharkhand blast
Ranchi :Seven CRPF personnel were injured in a landmine blast triggered by Maoist guerrillas in Jharkhand’s Bokaro district Sunday, police said. According to police, the Maoists detonated a landmine at Jhumra hill of Bokaro, around 130 km from Ranchi when CRPF personnel were returning from a routine patrol. The condition of one of the injured CRPF trooper is said to be serious. Maoist guerrillas are active in 18 of Jharkhand’s 24 districts.
Police personnel injured in encounter with Maoists rushed to Raipur for better treatment
Raipur (Chhattisgarh), Jan.20 (ANI): After sustaining severe injuries during a gunfight with Maoists, two police personnel have rushed for better medical care to Chhattisgarh capital Raipur. The injured are now said to be stable and undergoing treatment.
Mukesh Khare, Senior Superintendent of Police, Raipur, said: “One security official is injured in the eye and the other on his waist. They are undergoing treatment and we are not in the condition to divulge much. But yes they are stable and are accompanied by a team of doctors.” The two security personnel, severely injured in Maoists attacks on Friday, were first airlifted to a hospital in Jagdalpur town and later to Raipur.
Maoist camp busted, explosives seized
A Maoist camp was busted and a huge cache of explosives and other materials were seized by security forces in a forest in Odisha’s Ganjam district, police said today. No Maoist was, however, arrested during the operation carried out jointly by Special Operation Group (SOG), District Voluntary Force (DVF) and police team in Sorada area during the last four days, SP (Ganjam) Ashish Singh said today. The ultras might have got information about the movement of security forces and fled leaving behind explosives and other belongings in the camp which were seized by the security personnel.
This was one of the major haul in the district, a senior police officer said. The seized explosive items included two tiffin land mines bombs, three soap case bombs, nine detonators, 26 detonators with non-prime, two printer cartridge, three bundles of fuse wires, a bag containing white powder, around two Kilograms of iron plates used for preparation of clamour mines, 150 sticks of the cylindrical shape, ammunition pouch and around a dozen empty soap boxes, police said. Several Maoist literatures, both hand written and printed, around 120 CDs, 150-watt inverter, seven bags, four pairs of uniform, red clothes were also seized, they said. “The landmines were defused by the bomb disposal squad,” police said.
Maoist violence reveals failure and neglect in Indian security forces
The year 2012 ended with a seven-year low in Maoist violence. But 2013 seems to have begun with a bang, with the incident in Latehar in Jharkhand on January 7, in which 10 security personnel were killed, and Friday’s incident in Chhattisgarh, where an IAF helicopter was forced to crash-land after being hit by Maoist bullets. Both incidents reveal that while the security forces have begun to pressure the Maoists, their training and standard operating procedures leave a great deal of room for correction.
Not surprisingly, the Chhattisgarh Police are upset that the IAF crew of the Mi-17 chopper that was forced to crashland abandoned an injured Chhattisgarh Police wireless operator, S R Sahu, and the helicopter as they went looking for the nearest police base in the area. maoist The IAF, however, praised its pilots. “Quick response and professional handling of the helicopter, flying it away from the fire zone to a safer zone, averted major loss of life and equipment.
“The crew then assessed the threat situation and the condition of the injured policeman and decided to arrange immediate medical help for him…,” an IAF spokesperson said in New Delhi. Sahu was onboard the Mi-17 on way to pick up two injured Chhattisgarh Armed Force (CAF) personnel at Tamelwada in Sukma district, some 500km from state capital Raipur. As the helicopter came low searching for a place to land, it came under fire from Maoists. It immediately climbed and left the place without landing to pick up the injured jawans.
Wireless operator S.R. Sahu, who was onboard the IAF chopper and was hit by Maoist bullets, was airlifted to Raipur from Bastar on Saturday Wireless operator S.R. Sahu, who was onboard the IAF chopper and was hit by Maoist bullets, was airlifted to Raipur from Bastar on Saturday According to sources, the chopper was hit by as many as 10 bullets with one of the bullets piercing the fuel tank and another hitting Sahu near his waist. The pilot flew the chopper some 25km ahead and crashlanded on an agricultural field 3km from the Chintagufa CRPF base camp.
The IAF personnel then abandoned the chopper and an injured Sahu and headed for the CRPF camp. “They managed to locate the Chintagufa base camp and informed about the incident. Reinforcements then left for the site,” said Sonal Mishra, state police spokesperson and AIG (special intelligence bureau). The Chhattisgarh Police said they were shocked that the injured policeman was left without any assistance or first aid inside the chopper. There were also weapons inside the Mi- 17, which were left behind in the forest area for several hours till help arrived.
“The injured wireless operator was brought to the camp after midnight, perhaps at around 3am or so,” Mishra said. One of the two jawans that the chopper had been sent initially to evacuate died later because of excessive bleeding. The other, along with Sahu, was airlifted to Raipur on Saturday for treatment.
Six Naxals slain in biggest-ever strike in Maharashtra
Six Naxals, including two women cadres, were killed in an encounter in the wee hours of today near here in eastern Maharashtra, police said. The exchange of fire took place in the forests near Govindgaon village in Aheri taluka of the district, about 200km from Nagpur, in south eastern Vidarbha.
A police team was on a routine anti-Naxal operation in the jungles of Govindgaon on Saturday night when they were fired upon by the rebels. The patrolling party returned fire and in the ensuing gunfight at least six Maoists, including two women, were killed in an encounter lasting a few hours (it ended at around 2.30am), police said. While identifying the slain Naxals as Shankar Jalku Lakda (43), a member of south Gadchiroli divisional committee, Vinod Chandrayya Kodape (30), commander of Aheri dalam, Vinod’s wife Geeta Usendi (28), Mohan Kowase (25), Zuru Mattami (20) and Sunita Kodape (18), district superintendent of police Mohd Suvez Haque said all the bodies have been brought to Aheri police headquarters in Nagpur.
The SP said Shankar Lakda was involved in 59 cases of Naxal violence, Vinod in 20 and Geeta in 13. Police also seized two SLR rifles, two .303 rifles, ammunition and Naxal literature. Except Mohan, who hailed from from Morkhandi in Pakhanjur tehsil of neighbouring Chhattisgarh, others were from Gadchiroli, the SP said. This is the first time that so many Naxals have been killed in Gadchiroli, the district worst affected by Left-wing extremism in the state.