INDIA: MAOISTS SURVIVING ADVERSITY – ANALYSIS
….Among the various responses to their current crises, the Maoists have emphasised that their efforts must be focused to “preserve the subjective forces (from CC up to party cell) from enemy onslaught” and “particularly priority should be given to preservation of top level leadership forces”. After sustained leadership losses since 2007, the Maoists appear to have taken some effective measures to contain this trend. Only one Central Committee member from Assam was arrested in 2013, while Maoist fatalities through the year included no leader above the level of State committee members. However, in a major shock to the system, the high profile spokesperson of the Dandakaranya Special Zonal Committee (DKSZC) surrendered to SFs on January 8, 2014. The Maoists have also resolved to “fight back the enemy onslaught on strategic area and guerilla bases.
As part of this people and the People’s Militia should be rallied on a vast scale and mine warfare should be intensified.” The efficient harnessing of diminished resources, and concentrated attacks on the weakest links of the state Forces are integral to this effort, and at least some successes have been notched up by the Maoists. For instance, nearly 70 percent [78 out of 111] of SF personnel killed in Maoist attacks in 2013, have been killed in major incidents (each resulting in three or more fatalities); the proportion of SFs killed in major incidents was just around 50 per cent [53 out of 104] in 2012, indicating a sharp increase in lethality, despite the declining frequency of attacks.
The most notable single strike was the killing of Mahendra Karma, the controversial leader of the Salwa Judum, former Union Minister V.C. Shukla and Chhattisgarh Pradesh Congress Committe president Nandkumar Patel and his son in the Darbha Valley ambush, in which a total of 27 persons were massacred on May 25, 2013. The Maoists have also fully exploited the overwhelming posture of passive defence adopted by state Forces, particularly State Police formations, in the affected States. Partial data compiled by SATP indicates that, of total of 76 armed confrontation between the Police and Maoist cadres resulting in fatalities in 2013, 49 were initiated by the Maoists, and 27 by the SFs. Of these, 28 were major incidents, among which 16 were initiated by the Maoists and 12 by the SFs.
In another element of their tactical response to the crisis within the movement, the Maoists have enormously escalated their campaigns against alleged ‘police informers’, and civilians seen to be sympathetic to the state or to ‘enemy classes’. UMHA data, for instance, indicates that 465 alleged “police informers” were killed by the Maoists between 2011 and 2013, accounting for over 44 per cent of the 1,049 civilian fatalities over this period. Such killings are ordinarily executed with a high measure of demonstrative cruelty on the principle, “kill one, frighten ten thousand”. The Maoists have devised a 15 point two year plan for the revival of their ‘countrywide movement’.
The losses they have suffered over the past years have tempered the euphoria and adventurist expansionism that followed the unification of the People’s War Group and the Maoist Communist Centre, and the formation of the CPI-Maoist, in September 2004. Despite defections, losses and a visible degree of demoralization, however, the core leadership remains committed to its radical project of revolutionary violence, and its conviction that the present reverses are only part of the inevitable cycle of ‘advancing and retreating’ that is the essence of the ‘revolution’. Past experience has, moreover, demonstrated repeatedly that the insurgents’ capacity for recovery is overwhelmingly a function of the quality, character and persistence of state responses, rather than of revolutionary intent. It is here that India’s greatest vulnerabilities lie: in the inability of the political executive and bureaucracy to create the necessary capacities to confront this challenge on any of its component dimensions, despite the unending deluge of rhetoric on ‘holistic’ and ‘multi-pronged’ solutions.
Indeed, the ‘battalion approach’ – the mechanical shuffling about of troops – and fitful operations to secure transient ‘area domination’, remain the core of the state’s ‘strategy’. This is despite the recurring failure of this expedient, and the repeated loss of life among troops flung far and wide in grossly insufficient numbers, often with little training, poor technical and technological support, and little chance of quick reinforcement in case of ambush. The Maoists have displayed tremendous capacities for resurgence in the past, and surviving is, for any insurgent formation, the essence of winning. For all their reverses, the Maoists have survived, and continue to hope for a future victory.
C’garh govt asks for urgent deployment of 146 mobile towers
With Naxals using vulnerability of the communications network to ambush security forces, the Chhattisgarh government has asked the Centre to urgently deploy 146 mobile towers in the state. At a review meeting held in the Prime Minister’s Office on February 20, the Chhattisgarh government representative said it has identified 146 spots in the state that need mobile towers installed on a priority basis. The Additional Chief Secretary of Chhattisgarh, who was present in the meeting, said that out of the 146 locations, 73 in Bastar division were “critical and needed prioritisation.”
New airstrip soon for reconnaissance in Naxal areas
In the wake of the recent Naxal ambush in Chhattisgarh’s Sukma district, the Centre has expedited the process of shifting the airstrip for aerial reconnaissance drones in Left-Wing Extremism-affected areas. “The airstrip for unmanned aerial vehicles is expected to be functional within three months. The new airstrip will enable effective reconnaissance of the Naxal-infested regions,” said an official. The drones, according to sources, may operate from a runway located at Bhilai in Chhattisgarh. The National Technical Research Organisation presently operates the drones out of the Begumpet airbase in Hyderabad.
After Rs 5-crore spend, project junked as it is ‘too close to Naxals’
Five years after work for a police training school got underway, it dawned on authorities that a Maoist hub was just 6 km away. Good news: Rs 65 cr was saved After labouring for five years and spending over Rs 5 crore on a police training school in the state, the Centre called off the entire project after it dawned on the powers-that-be that the place was in the proximity of a Naxal-affected area. What still makes this good news is that the work was stopped before the total estimated cost of Rs 70 crore was spent.
In its third report of 2014, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has slammed the Centre for the fiasco. The ‘armed police training school’ was proposed to be set up at Hoovina Hadagali in Bellary. The initial cost was estimated at Rs 16.40 crore. The Centre released Rs 6 crore in 2008 to the Karnataka State Police Housing Corporation. After spending Rs 4.21 lakh in Hoovina Hadagali, the government decided to shift the project to Meenahalli in the same district.
The nail in the project’s coffin was the DGP’s observation that “the site was located within six km from a Naxal-affected area in Andhra Pradesh. As the training school would have an armoury, attacks by Naxals could not be ruled out.” In June 2013, the DGP suggested converting the already-constructed buildings into a hospital for local people. By this time, Rs 5.32 crore had already been spent.
During Polls, Some Bihar Leaders Face Maoist Threat
With Lok Sabha polls around the corner, half a dozen Bihar politicians and some police officers are on the hit list of Maoists, police said Wednesday. The Intelligence Bureau has asked the Bihar Police to tighten its security in view of the Maoist threat. “Intelligence Bureau has cautioned the state police that Maoists may target some leaders and police officers either ahead of polls or during the polls,” an officer at the police headquarters here said.
According to the officer, ruling Janata Dal-United MP from Munger Rajiv Ranjan Singh alias Lalaln Singh, who is contesting the polls, Bihar assembly Speaker Uday Narain Choudhary, who is contesting from Jamui seat as a JD-U candidate and BJP legislator Prem Ranjan Patel are on the hit list of the Maoists. Jamui is considered a Maoist stronghold. “Maoists can target and attack other leaders during campaign in Gaya, Aurangabad, Jehanabad, Arwal, Nawada, Rohtas districts, known as hot bed of Maoists activities,” a police official said. Four superintendents of police at Munger, Banka, Jamui and Lakhisarai are also on the hit list of Maoists.
Maoist Camp Destroyed, Arms Seized at Haldi Ghat
A Maoist camp was destroyed in a two-day anti-Maoist operation at Haldi Ghat area bordering Raighar and Amlipada. Following intelligence reports, Nabarangpur SP Brajesh Rai and a team of District Voluntary Force (DVF), Special Operation Group (SOG), Armed Reserve Police (APR) of Nabarangpur and Border Security Force (BSF) jawans raided the forest on Friday noon. When they reached the Maoist camp, the ultras opened fire at them and the forces fired in retaliation.
The exchange of fire continued till Sunday evening. Inspector General of Police Yeswant Kumar Jethwa told mediapersons that the Maoist cadres fled from the camp which had six temporary tents housing more than 50 rebels. It is suspected that they were planning to carry out violent activities during the ensuing polls. Huge cache of arms and ammunitions too were seized. This included eight land mines, three SBML guns, one 8 mm pistol, 70 detonators, seven bundles of wires, a solar panel, five kgs of gun powder, Maoist uniforms and literature, medicine kits and radios, among other things. Dress material seized from the camp indicate that there were women cadres in the camp as well.
Jethwa said more than 50 Maoists managed to escape after exchange of fire with the police forces. There were no reports of casualties from either side. Maoists of Meinpur division and Nuapada division of outlawed CPI (Maoist) organisation, which are active in Odisha and Chhattisgarh were camping in the forest.