India And Left-Wing Extremism 2013: The Threat Continues – Analysis
IPCS January 26, 2014 By N Manoharan
Left-wing Extremism (LWE) continued to remain as one of the major challenges to India’s internal security in 2013. Its intensity persisted especially in three states – Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Orissa – apart from significant presence in West Bengal, Bihar, and Maharashtra. At the same time, the left-wing extremists have successfully managed to penetrate into some of the states of the northeast and south of India and into few of the urban areas.
The Expansion in 2013
In 2013, the Maoists continue to push the boundaries of the ‘Red Corridor’ and set up support bases in upper Assam and some of the tribal areas in the hilly interiors. The presence of Maoists is felt in pockets of Tinsukia, Dibrugarh, Lakhimpur, Dhemaji, Sivasagar, Golaghat and Karbi Anglong districts of Assam and Lohit district of Arunachal Pradesh (adjoining Tinsukia). The Maoists have also been trying to extend their presence in southern India, especially around tri-junction of Tamil Nadu-Kerala-Karnataka. As far as urban areas are concerned, significant Maoist activities, especially of its front organisations, have been reported from places like Delhi and the National Capital Region, Gurgaon, NOIDA, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Bangalore, Pune, Nagpur, Surat, Ahmedabad, Bhopal, Ranchi, Jamshedpur, Raipur, Durg, Patna, Hyderabad, Rourkela, Bhubaneswar, Guwahati and Chandigarh.
Decline in Violence
Statistics in 2013 Compared to 2011-12, the number of violent incidents and killings due to LWE has come down in 2013. However, though less in numbers, the attacks by Maoists have been intense and brutal. One of such ruthless attacks was made on a convoy of Congress leaders and workers at Jeeram Ghati in Jagdalpur district of Chhattisgarh on 25 May 2013 that claimed 28 lives and injured scores of others.
Those killed included Mahendra Karma, a former Minister of Chhattisgarh and a former Lok Sabha member, Nand Kumar Patel, the state’s Congress chief, his son Dinesh Patel, and former MLA Uday Mudliyar; former Union minister Vidya Charan Shukla and Konta MLA Kawasi Lakhma were critically injured. The convoy was an ideal target because of the presence of many high-profile leaders in one place, and that too with less security cover, passing through a most vulnerable area. The year witnessed a shrink in the number of middle- and top-level Maoist leaders due to killings or arrests or surrenders. This happened mostly in Odisha, Bihar, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand. Yet, one cannot assert with absolute confidence that the Left-wing Extremism is on the wane.
The State Response: Two Pronged Strategy in 2013
Conflict management efforts by both Central and State governments were focused on two-pronged approach – security and development – with moderate success. On the security front, the Union government was supplementing the efforts of States that included providing Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) and Commando Battalions for Resolute Action (CoBRA), sanction of India Reserve (IR) battalions, setting up of Counter Insurgency and Anti-Terrorism (CIAT) schools, modernisation and upgradation of the State Police and their Intelligence apparatus under the Scheme for Modernization of State Police Forces (MPF scheme), re-imbursement of security related expenditure under the Security Related Expenditure (SRE) Scheme and filling up critical infrastructure gaps under the Scheme for Special Infrastructure in Left Wing Extremism affected States.
In addition, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) stationed at the Begumpet airport were helping the ground forces to track Maoist movement. However, in the absence of proper coordination with the CRPF, the state police forces were finding it difficult to keep pace with the Maoists. For instance, in 2013 coordination issue erupted in Bihar in a major way. In addition, most of the states were found wanting in utilisation of police modernisation funds.
On the development front, funds were allocated to the LWE-affected States under various Central Schemes like the Backward Regions Grant Fund, Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, Prime Minister’s Gram Sadak Yojna, National Rural Health Mission, Ashram Schools, Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidhyutikaran Yojna and Sarva Siksha Abhiyan. In addition, the Government was implementing the Integrated Action Plan (IAP) to address development deficit in public infrastructure and services in 82 selected Districts.
There was no paucity of funds. However, these initiatives were not been optimally implemented despite the presence of a number of review and monitoring mechanisms for different aspects of LWE problem and the measures needed to deal with it. 2014: A Forecast Overall, on analyzing trends of LWE in 2013, it is clear that the conflict is going to continue in 2014 and beyond, thus keeping both Central and State governments on its toes.
What is required, at the outset, is a political desire, if not the political will, to deal with the entire gamut of the threat. Instead of slackness on account of the prevailing disturbed environment, the administrative apparatus should work overtime to ensure that all socio-economic development and poverty alleviation programmes are implemented with high efficiency and honesty and within an urgent timeframe. Good governance is the key. Attention is also required in making sure that the criminal justice system functions with speed, fairness, transparency and honesty, it is difficult to bring down prevailing “crisis of legitimacy”.
Maoists kidnap four officials in Jharkhand
DHNABAD: An armed gang of Maoists kidnapped four junior officials of rural development at Pirtand, 25 kms from the district headquarters of Giridih late on Saturday night. Those kidnapped include a young Prime Minister Rural development fellow Sai Vardhan Wansi from Andhra Pradesh, who was in the team which had gone to the rural areas of Naxalite infested Pirtand to oversee implementation of Mahatama Gandhi national rural employment scheme and disbursement of old age pension in the villages.
Kidnapping took place at Peo village under Pirtand police station according to deputy SP Arif Ekram. The Maoists had held hostage five people including driver of the vehicle and took them inside the jungle. They released the vehicle and the driver on Sunday morning. RK Rana, officer-in-charge of Pirtand PS suspected the involvement of Ajay Mahto gang of Naxalites. Those kidnapped are — Sai Vardhan Wansi,a PMRD fellow, Shambhi Pandit,rojgar sewak, Maqsood Ansari,panchayat sewak and Chandradev, gram panchayat secretary. IG of Hazaribagh zone reached Giridih and discussed strategy to seek safe release of the officials.
Chief minister Hemant Soren too issued an appeal to the Maoists requesting them to release the junior officials unharmed. Ashok Kumar Singh, general secretary of the Jharkhand non-gazetted employees association threatened to go on indefinite strike from Monday to press for early and safe release of the panchayat officials. Two days back, the Maoists had destroyed the panchayat office building at Peo in Pirtand with explosives and had left Maoists literature warning the officials against explotation of the villagers.
Reds Threaten Black Gold After Green Nod
Green hurdle crossed, red hurdle remains. After being stuck in political and administrative quagmire for 15 years, three critical railway line projects for coal evacuation, worth Rs 5,314 crore, have got environment clearance. But implementation of the projects in Naxal-affected areas of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Odisha remains a challenge due to security and land acquisition issues. The Bhupdevpur-Dharamjaigarh line in Chhattisgarh, Jharsuguda-Barpalli-Sardega line in Odisha and Tori-Shivpur-Kathautia line in Jharkhand have got a push from the Prime Minister’s Office and their progress is now being monitored on a fortnightly basis.
Maoists torch trucks in Jharkhand
Gumla /Gaya, Jan 26 (ANI): Maoists torched three trucks in Gumla district of Jharkhand for not paying the levy demanded by them, said drivers. The incident has inflicted fear among the truck drivers, who say no one comes to their rescue to solve their problems. There have been reports of setting trucks ablaze by Maoists in the past. After the attack, the Maoists left behind a list of their demands. Meanwhile, in Bihar police arrested one Maoist in Kabir village. The Maoist identified as Aayodhya Ravidas was a wanted rebel responsible for various crimes.
Republic Day celebrated in Odisha amidst boycott by Maoists
Tight security arrangements had been made in Maoist-hit Malkangiri, Koraput, Rayagada, Kandhamal, Gajapati and Nuapada districts in view of the boycott call by the ultras. No untoward incident was, however, reported from anywhere in the state. Suspected Maoists put up black flags in some pockets of Chitrakonda and Kalimela areas in Malkangiri district, the sources said. PTI
Cops sound alert on Republic Day
RANCHI: Police have sounded high alert across state on Republic Day after intelligence inputs suggested that Left-wing extremists might carry out attacks in certain parts of Jharkhand on the day. All 24 districts in state are Maoist-hit and 18 different rebel groups are present along with the Maoists. Additional director general of police (special branch) Rezi Dundung said police have received intelligence inputs from both state and the central agencies. “The alert is not specific. It is more or less a general and usual one. But we have taken it seriously and have deployed security personnel at all sensitive areas,” said Dundung.
Dundung did not disclose which districts are vulnerable according to the intelligence inputs. Sources in the police, however, said districts like Ranchi, Bokaro, Giridih, Latehar, Gumla and Chatra are under close observation. “Inputs about rebel movement and gathering have reached us from these districts. The inputs have been passed on to the concerned SPs,” said an officer at police headquarters. Dungdung, however, said there is no information about rebels storing explosives to use them against cops. It is common for rebels to oppose Republic Day celebrations. They ask locals in their areas not to participate in the celebrations.
They call it a ‘black day’ and also unfurl black flags in their areas of influence to oppose the day. In keeping with this, security at all sensitive areas have been tightened. Bokaro DIG D B Sharma said police are carrying out combing operations in sensitive areas. Security has been tightened at Birsa Munda Airport in Ranchi and railway stations in state. A joint order by Ranchi DC and SSP has been issued for security in the city during the celebrations. “We have made elaborate arrangements for security in the city. Arrangements are also made to avoid traffic snarls,” said SSP Bheemsen Tuti.