YOUR SOLDIERS, OUR SOLDIERS – ANALYSIS
In July 2013, a commander of the Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) asserted that the fighting army of the outfit he represents has a definite edge over the security forces. He said, “Our honesty, dedication and selflessness, coupled with public support, have kept us firm and strong over the years.” Maoist literature is replete with such affirmations. While such statements are mostly rhetorical, typical of an extremist movement trying to assert moral superiority vis-a-vis its adversaries, these do contain some truths. At least in terms of attachment to an objective, the extremists are much ahead of the security forces who are merely to trying to prevent an end game.
To begin with, the country’s political leaders had less faith in the security forces. In his address at the Chief Minister’s Conference of Internal Security in New Delhi on 20 December 2007, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said, “Inadequate, ill-equipped, ill-trained, poorly-motivated personnel cannot take on Naxalite extremists who are increasingly getting better equipped and organised.” In the next six years, enormous resources were spent to create a force that can discard these loopholes. The country continues to incur such expenses in modernisation programmes. Improvements, as a result, have been achieved in terms of amassing a large contingent of fighting men, building on their capacities, and also the equipments in their possession. The days when the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) used to admit that the insurgents are better armed than the state police force personnel are far behind.
Most of the police posts today are much better protected and are no longer sitting ducks they used to be half a decade back. While a large scope for improvement in the operating standards remains, the security forces combating the Maoists are much better dressed, fed, and equipped today than earlier. Contrast this imagery of a security force personnel with that of a Maoist. In spite of the reports of the CPI-Maoist collecting millions of rupees as extortion and establishing arms smuggling networks through India’s northeast, living conditions of an average rebel has not undergone any improvement over the years. His/ her life is constantly on the run with access to the most basic diet just enough to survive and to crude weapons (only the senior cadres have access to sophisticated weapons) for purposes of inflicting fatalities on the enemy as well as self-defence.
It is apparent from the descriptions of the media persons who have spent time in Maoist camps that with the state’s military approach gathering steam, such operating conditions have become even more precarious and inhospitable. While one can go on debating the way the CPI-Maoist has been able to transform the cadres recruited through a range of methods into die hard revolutionaries, the fact remains that the steadfast attachment to an end game invariably differentiates the extremists from the security force personnel. While doubting the gallantry quotient among the security forces is none of the purposes of this article, the reality is that the left-wing extremism affected theatres of the country, much like the insurgency-affected states of the Northeast, are marked by a contest between resolute attachment to an ideology and personal bravery.
Somehow, the rigorous training modules and expenses on firearms incurred on the security forces have not been able to bridge the crucial gap between competency and commitment. Data on desertion among the security forces and surrender of Maoist cadres provide a useful, albeit not the most ideal, empirical evidence for this argument. Between 2009 and 2012, central police organisations like the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Border Security Force (BSF) and the Indo Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) lost 36,618 personnel to resignations and voluntary retirement.
In 2013, another 8,500 personnel left their services. Experts attribute such mass-scale attrition to reasons such as stress, continued deployment in conflict zones and absence of peace time postings; hostile operating environments; and lack of basic facilities. In comparison, 1533 Maoist cadres surrendered between 2009 and 2013. Some attributed their decisions to an ideological disconnect, some to ill health and some others to the hardships in the forests. Even considering the fact that not all the resigning security force personnel were deployed in Maoist affected areas and also that the total strength of the paramilitary forces is several multiples of the number of the Maoists, the retiree/ surrendered personnel to total force ratio is alarmingly higher among the security forces than the extremists. In simple terms, in spite of much worse operational conditions, most Maoists chose to remain with the outfit.
Maoist leader held, huge ammunition seized in Jharkhand
Medininagar: A CPI (Maoist) sub-zonal commander and his associate were arrested and a huge quantity of arms and ammunition was seized from them in the jungle area under Panki police station in Palamau district on Monday, police said. CPI (Maoist) sub-zonal commander Ankit Yadav and his associate Sahid Ansari were arrested during the anti-Naxal operation launched in view of the forthcoming general polls, SP Y S Ramesh said.
Acting on a tip-off that some Maoists will be assembling in the jungle, state district police initiated an operation and arrested the duo and recovered arms and ammunition after interrogating them, he said. The explosives were allegedly being ferried to Panki from Tal to disrupt the forthcoming elections, he said, adding, further investigation into the matter was on. PTI
Bihar: Four Maoists Arrested, Huge Cache of Arms Seized
Four Maoists were arrested from different places of Naxal-hit Bihar’s Aurangabad district today, police said. Acting on a tip-off, police arrested self-styled area commander Devilal Yadav along with his associates, identified as Dularchand Yadav and Madeshwar Yadav, from an area under the Khudwa police station, SP Upendra Kumar Sharma said. Meanwhile, another Maoist Jamadar Yadav was arrested from Hikshanbigha under Daudnagar police station area, he said. Interrogating him, police recovered a huge cache of arms and ammunition including gelatin powder, cane powder and equipments used for making bomb from a hide-out in a nearby mountain, Sharma added.
Maoists may use latent UP villages to scuttle LS polls
The Maoists’ call for boycotting the Lok Sabha elections has charged up the atmosphere in three Uttar Pradesh districts – Sonebhadra, Mirzapur and Chandauli – which form part of the Red Corridor. While the central authorities are deploying extra manpower to conduct elections in the four worst-hit states — Jharkhand, Bihar, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh – the three UP districts will be largely policed by the Provincial Armed Constabulary, besides the CRPF.
The forces have already moved to the rural areas of the three districts since they have common borders with the four Maoist-hit states where the Peoples Liberation Guerrilla Army (PLGA) — the military wing of the CPI (Maoist) — has considerable clout. Inspector general (law and order) Amrendra Kumar Sengar said the Maoists have influence in 293 villages in Sonebhadra district, 107 in Mirzapur and 241 in Chandauli. The hilly terrain with a thick forest cover and lack of communication facilities are major challenges for the police force during combing operations. The four state police forces will set up common-frequency wireless sets in the area for quick sharing of information.
Prakash D, IGP, Varanasi zone, told HT that the state police would coordinate with the four states to launch joint operations. He said, “We’ve prepared a list of Maoist cadres wanted in previous cases. The Uttar Pradesh police have also sent the list to MP, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand.” State intelligence department reports said besides using villages in the three districts as hideouts, the PLGA was spreading out to other adjacent districts — Ballia, Ghazipur, Kushinagar, Maharajganj, Gorakhpur and Shravasti — to stretch the Red Corridor to Nepal. The Maoists have divided the state into three parts. While the area north of the Ganga is managed by the Uttarakhand, North Bihar and Uttar Pradesh special area committee, the central and western UP is under the west-central area committee.
The Bihar-Jharkhand area committee controls Mirzapur, Chandauli and Sonebhadra. A strategy meeting of the officers of UP and MP will be held in Allahabad on March 11, while another meeting will be held with officers from Jharkhand, Bihar and Chhattisgarh after the Holi. Though there has been no major Maoist activity in Uttar Pradesh since 2004 when around a dozen police personnel were killed in a landmine blast in Chandauli, the Maoists have made their presence felt in the districts located on the borders.
CPI(M) activist shot dead by suspected Maoists
A Kommu Koya dance troupe organiser Patra Mutyam, 55, an activist of the CPI(M), was allegedly shot dead by suspected Maoists at the remote Tummala village in Chintur mandal early on Monday morning. Sources said that Mutyam, who also worked as a postman in the past, was whisked away from his house by a group of suspected rebels around midnight on Sunday. He was shot dead at point blank range by the assailants at a secluded place close to his house on Monday.
In a letter left behind by the suspected rebels in the name of Maoist Sabari Area Committee alleged that Mutyam was acting as a police informer and harassing gullible Adivasis. Fear gripped the interior tribal pockets in Chintur mandal along the inter-State border with Chhattisgarh following the shocking incident ahead of the general elections slated for April 30.