internal terror

4 02 2009

Source: DNA INDIA
For some time now, attacks by Maoist groups have been limited to parts of Central India — Maharashtra, where Naxalites are known to operate has been quiet. This changed on Sunday and in a most brutal manner when a large group of well armed Naxalites stormed a village and massacred a posse of 15 policemen who had come to the village.

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Eyewitness accounts of the incident are chilling — the Naxalites fired indiscriminately on the policemen and killed them; the bodies found were mutiliated with their eyes pierced and hand or legs chopped off. Some reports have claimed that women Maoists led the group.
Chief minister Ashok Chavan has bravely claimed that the state will retaliate and that the army need not be called to manage the situation, but his words mean little if his police department finds itself without the weapons or strategy to fight back. Experts have talked about a ‘Red Corridor’ extending from Andhra Pradesh to Uttar Pradesh.
While Naxalite groups in different states may not always coordinate with each other, there is no denying that large swathes of the hinterland are out of the state’s control. Clearly this is an untenable situation in need of quick resolution.
The Salwa Judum, or so-called self-protection groups promoted by the Chattisgarh government have proved to be unpopular and ineffective and state police units have found themselves out of their depth in understanding, much less handling Maoism. A proposal to have a special task force has been a non-starter.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s description of Naxalism as a “virus” is apt and this virus is spreading rapidly.TheIndian state has become preoccupied with externally-sponsored terrorism but internal terrorism is no less a scourge.
There are socio-economic reasons why Naxalites thrive; they are seen as helping tribal and disadvantaged groups in rural areaswhere the state’s delivery systems have failed. There are political issues too, because Maoists propogate an ultra-left ideology. All these should be incorporated in any strategy to deal with them. Not much thinking seems to have gone into this.
But it is also a major security issue and even here, worryingly, the states have failed as many such spectacular attacks in recent years show. Maharashtra and the Centre must see this incident as a major wake up call and refurbish their tactics in tackling Naxalism before more such attacks occur.





Tempt Maoists if you can’t beat them

4 02 2009

Source: INDIA TODAY
If you can’t beat them, join them. Or better still, make them join you!
Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram perhaps wants the Jharkhand government to try exactly this by formulating an attractive surrender policy for the Maoists, one which can make the rebels join the mainstream.
So far, almost 100 Naxalites have surrendered in Jharkhand during different regimes. But, in the absence of their proper rehabilitation, the remaining Maoists rebels have shunned the state’s offer.
Chidambaram, who was in Jharkhand recently to review the state’s preparedness against the Naxalites, has suggested Jharkhand to work out its own surrender policy, “as only a state can evolve specific policy keeping in mind its specific geographical and social landscape”.
Obviously, the argument in favour of states preparing their own policies was that a national policy on surrender cannot carry the weight and complication of the extremist problem having local overtones. Chidambaram, however, clarified that the Centre may provide financial assistance to the states.
This was Chidambaram’s first visit to Jharkhand since he became the home minister late last year.

Jharkhand’s history of Naxal violence Click here

In terms of strategic realism, the Centre seems convinced that now was the right time to introduce a surrender policy because unlike 2007-08 when the country witnessed and withstood a sharp rise in extremist activities, the security forces have gained an upper hand in 2008.
“With their back to the wall, the Naxalites may now see some reasons to accept the surrender policy,” said a senior Jharkhand IPS officer.
No wonder Jharkhand officials are busy giving final touches to the draft of a new surrender policy, which they believe would motivate the Maoists rebels to abhor violence and return to the mainstream.
The Jharkhand police headquarters is believed to have supported continuance of hard anti-Naxalite operations to go along with the surrender policy because such policies work only when police are in a position of strength and the Naxalites are on the run.
There are, however, just too many questions over the efficacy of a surrender policy because the “bait” of a fixed monthly salary is unlikely to lure the rebels just because the Naxalites earn crores in the form of “levy”.
According to sources, the new surrender policy draft has borrowed heavily from a similar draft prepared in 2006 but could not be implemented because of serious difference of opinions within the then cabinet under Arjun Munda government.
The policy had then promised extremists cash compensation, reward, land, employment, free housing, healthcare and education, life insurance, monthly stipend, vocational training, fast-track courts, provision to condone sentences, reimbursement for firearms, a mechanism to settle land disputes and financial inducements to villages and NGOs motivating surrender.
Incidentally, the proposed policy has been left hanging by previous governments for quite some time now. The successive governments led by Arjun Munda, Madhu Koda and Shibu Soren have been dilly-dallying the finalisation.
Beyond surrender policy, Chidambaram was informed that as many as 145 police stations in Jharkhand were located in areas heavily infested by the Maoist rebels. The home minister also issued instructions to set up police stations in 25 blocks of Jharkhand, which do not have any.
The minister’s visit to Jharkhand also assumed special significance since this was one state where Chidambaram’s idea of inter-state join operation against Naxalites has failed to fructify because of a neighbour’s reluctance.
In fact, Chidambaram admitted that the hot-pursuit and barrier-free crackdown on Maoists was being carried out by the police forces of various states except West Bengal, which has not allowed the Jharkhand police to enter its territory. In fact, Jharkhand has lodged a formal complaint with Chidambaram on this issue.
“We told the Union home minister that West Bengal’s reluctance to be part of any joint operation against the ultras has turned out to be a stumbling block in the fight against Naxalism,” said a Jharkhand IPS officer.
The minister has promised to work it out with West Bengal, adding that Orissa, Jharkhand and Bihar were already carrying out joint operations.
Earlier on January 7, when Chidambaram had a meeting with chief ministers of all the Maoist-hit states, a consensus was reached on conducting joint operations against the Maoists rebels.
The minister’s maiden visit, however, failed to lift the veil over the fate of Jharkhand’s suspended assembly, as he said it was for the political parties in the state to decide in which direction they wanted to go.
President’s rule was clamped in Jharkhand on January 19 after the UPA alliance partners failed to reach a consensus over Shibu Soren’s successor, as the JMM chief had to resign from the chief minister’s chair following his defeat at the January 8 Tamar bypoll.