Naxal movement gaining foothold in Uttar Pradesh’s Ballia villages
Ballia (UP): Community policing and combative efforts had appeared to be effective in checking Maoist menace in Uttar Pradesh, but a recent Ballia administration letter on apprehension of the Naxal movement taking roots in 53 villages might force the state police to redraw its plans. The state has three Naxal-infested districts – Sonebhadra, Chandauli and parts of Mirzapur – and it had been successfully managing to check the menace but a letter by superintendent of police, Ballia in April has highlighted the threat that looms large in 53 villages of the district which share border with Bihar on three sides.
According to the letter, all the socio-economic factors said to give rise to Naxalism are present in Ballia and if remedial steps are not taken, it would take root there, posing a challenge to law and order and development. These 53 villages include Nagwa, the native village of freedom fighter Mangal Pandey, Ojhwalia, the village of noted Hindi litterateur Hazari Prasad Dwivedi, and six villages under Dokati police station area of Jai Prakash Narain. The letter requests the government to provide all facilities in these villages of Ballia which are being provided to the Naxal-infested areas of the state and give priority to development schemes.
It also stresses on bringing the backward and poor people in the mainstream to check the youth from being misled. According to police sources, Naxals have been active in the district in some form or other since 2001 and there are inputs suggesting that a ‘daman virodhi morcha’ (anti- oppression front) had also been formed here. Police sources said the Inspector General of Police, Varanasi has also sent a letter to the police chiefs of Ballia, Mau and Azamgarh to remain vigilant with regard to the activities of ‘Bharat ka Janvadi Morcha’, CPI Maoists and Nari Mukti Morcha.
The letter also states that a two-day meeting of one of these outfits was organised at Nagri Pracharini Sabhagar on October, 2011. According to sources, additional force consisting of one ASP, one circle officer, 15 SIs and 150 constables have been provided and patrolling is being conducted in these 53 villages which share their borders with Bhojpur, Chappra, Buxar and Siwan. A massive community policing system in the three Naxal- infested districts is already in place with camps being held regularly for bringing people into the mainstream and extending help in education, health, employment and computer training among others.
Earlier this month, SP, Sonebhadra and deputy commandant CRPF and their team had taken part in combing in areas adjoining Chhattisgarh. They had also met the locals and took stock of their problems. IG Varanasi, G L Meena when contacted, said the reply from the government was awaited with regard to extending the benefits to these 53 villages of the district. Once that is received, help will be extended to people of these areas through central government schemes not just in policing but also on the development front, he said.
Women Cadres Shedding Traditional Roles in LWE Areas
Women in naxal cadres are being recruited more for military operations in Bastar Maoist-hotbed as against the general perception of their role as cooks, motivators and shields, according to recent findings by the state police. The women cadres are also being given equal chance in decision making at special zonal committee rung of outlawed Communist Party of India (Maoist). “Women cadres are actively participating in military operations in large number as compared to their male counterparts. It has been clearly witnessed in recent attacks (Jiram valley attack on Congress convoy) carried by Maoists,” Inspector General, Chhattisgarh Armed Force (CAF) and anti-naxal operation, R P Kalluri told PTI.
“Women cadres are generally more brutal and ferocious. We cannot rule out their increasing numbers in the movement in Bastar. We have to psychologically deal with the issue,” Kalluri said. Intelligence inputs suggest the number of women cadres has significantly increased in the past two years in Bastar region, considered as country’s worst naxal-hit area, and apparently in other states as well. In 2010, women constituted around 40 per cent of the Naxal cadre which increased to 60 per cent in the beginning of this year. Chhattisgarh leads among naxal-hit states where recruitment of women cadre is higher.
“Women were only recruited to assist men or for ordinary tasks. But now the scenario has changed. With most of the men rebels quitting the movement, it has prompted the Maoist leaders to alter their recruitment strategy. They are giving more preference to females,” an IB official said on condition of anonymity. In the past few months, about 60 per cent women cadres were recruited at lower ranks in naxal camps as compared to men, while they hold 50 per cent presence in area and divisional committees and 25 per cent in zonal committees, the official said. In Bastar, around 27 divisional naxal committees were operating under Dandkaranya special zonal committee, in which over 20 were being lead by women cadres.
By recruiting women, the Naxal leaders want to convince people that they enjoy social acceptability. Besides doing the routine work, women also serve better in collecting intelligence inputs, the official added. As per the IB official, Sujata, active since past several years in the region, is heading the Dandakaranya state military commission. Accompanying her are Niti (chief of north Bastar divisional committee), Madhvi (west Bastar divisional committee), Kosi (Mangler area committee) among others. However, this is not a recent phenomenon as women have been part of the naxal movement since its beginning, an expert on Maoist issues feels.
“They (women) easily do not quit the movement, that is why their numbers are increasing,” Professor Girishkant Pandey, head of defence studies science in Government Science College, said. According to Narayanpur Deputy Superintendent of Police N K Sahu, Chetna Natya Mandali (CNM) — a cultural wing of Maoists — plays a dominant role in recruiting women. For various cultural activities aimed at publicising the naxal propaganda, mostly tribal girls were recruited and later they joined the movement. Besides, it has recently been observed that more male cadres are quitting the movement, Sahu said. Notably, a woman platoon party commander was recently killed in Narayanpur district while a woman deputy commander of national park area committee was gunned down in Bijpaur district, police said.
‘Replicating Andhra model will be disastrous’
KANNUR: The Union government’s decision to replicate Andhra Pradesh model at national level to fight the Maoists will have disastrous consequences, said Varavara Rao, Maoist ideologue and activist from Andhra Pradesh. In Andhra Pradesh, an elite commando force named Greyhounds is being used to fight left wing extremists. “Greyhounds are another version of Salwa Judum, which recruited tribal people to fight the Maoists,” he added. A meeting of chief ministers of the Maoist-affected states held in New Delhi on June 6 has agreed to form a unified national policy to tackle the Maoist menace and follow the Andhra Pradesh model to counter them.
The meeting was convened following the Darbha attack in Chhattisgarh that wiped out the state Congress leadership. Speaking to TOI here on Saturday, Rao, who was here to attend a convention organized against the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, said that the method Andhra police were using was illegal and extra-constitutional. “The Greyhounds has no geographical limits and will go to any state to kill Maoists. Giving sanction to adopt the Andhra model at national level is the sign of the frustration that has crept into the minds of the rulers,” he said. According to Rao, there were a number of reasons for the decline of Maoists in Andhra Pradesh.
“But the leadership of the North Telengana Special Committee are by and large intact, despite the police actions,” he claimed. “Government is now concentrating on eliminating Maoist leadership. Earlier, there were raids and harassment to nab the leaders. Now the security forces are focusing more on wiping out the leaders,” said Rao. At the same time, Maoists are spreading their activities to other areas despite being under pressure from the security agencies in their strongholds.
“The party is gaining strength in the North East and in some areas in South India.” Rao also expressed apprehension that the government might use the army against the Maoists after the elections to the Chhattisgarh assembly and the general elections in 2014. “The Centre is planning an all-out offensive against the Maoists. Deploying the army is dependent on the outcome of the polls. If any party gets a decisive mandate and forms a stable government, possibility of using the army against the Maoists is very high,” he added. Rao also said that there have not been any significant efforts to revive the dialogue between the Maoists and the government after the killing of the CPI (Maoist) politburo member Azad, which led to a stalemate.