TOPIC: General Studies 3
- Challenges to Internal Security
Context: Twenty-three security personnel were killed and 33 injured on April 2nd in one of the deadliest Maoist ambushes ever in Bastar, Chattisgarh.
- A CoBRA commando has been captured by Maoists and are demanding interlocutor for negotiating his release.
- In this ambush, Maoists triggered blasts and then rained bullets and shells on the troops from well-camouflaged positions, inflicting heavy causalities.
- One of the survivors of the encounter said that they were attacked by over 400 Maoists from three sides. The ambush lines stretched over 2km.
- This is the second major attack since March 24 when Maoists blew up a bus carrying security personnel, killing five policemen and injuring 13 in neighbouring Narayanpur district.
- Complacency by government: The downward trend of Maoist violence over the last few years has led the government and some security analysts to declare that the battle against Maoism (or Naxalism, as the terms are interchangeably used) is almost won.
- Still the biggest Internal Security threat: Despite data revealing an overall reduction in violence, the capacity of Left-wing extremists to retaliate with ferocity indicates that Maoism still remains the biggest threat to our internal security. The recent attack is yet another reminder of the capability of Maoist cadres to lie low for long periods, regroup and strike at intervals.
- Chhattisgarh struggles: Since a crackdown on Maoists starting 2005 in Left Wing Extremism (LWE) states, other states have largely tackled the problem. The number of districts declared Naxal-affected is now just 90, down from over 200 in the early 2000s. Yet Chhattisgarh struggles
- Mass support to Maoists: There is a complete administrative and security vacuum in such areas to counter. The erosion of State authority is also reflected in the fact that civilians often act as the eyes and ears of the Maoists in affected areas.
- Federal Challenge: One problem is the federal nature of India, and the resistance of state governments. It limits what the Central government can do to tackle the challenges comprehensively.
- The overstretched policemen operating in these areas, without an adequate senior police leadership is at times making the operations against Maoists ineffective.
The Way Ahead
- Learnings from AP: The Greyhounds of undivided Andhra Pradesh, a specialised force that achieved great success in weakening the Maoists, conducted their operations with small-sized teams, acting on pinpoint intelligence. Even their platoon strength team had a clear chain of command.
- Building Infrastructure: While extending roads and hoisting mobile towers have certainly helped, CRPF will have to set up its camps deeper in the jungles. The Rural Roads Programme (RRP) aimed at constructing 5,411 kms and connecting 44 Naxal-affected districts, must also be speeded up as most of these districts fall in Chhattisgarh.
- Leadership by State Police: Maoism has been defeated only in states where the state police have taken the lead. Central forces have the numbers and the training, but they have no local knowledge or intelligence. Only local police can drive out Maoists
- The obliteration of Maoist violence in Andhra Pradesh is largely attributed to the state’s Greyhounds.
- In Maharashtra, where Maoists held sway over several districts, they have now been confined to border areas of Gadchiroli thanks to local police and the C60 force.
- West Bengal achieved normalcy through an ingenious strategy adopted by the state police.
- The Jharkhand Jaguars have gained an upper hand in the past few years, and Odisha has confined Maoist activity largely to Malkangiri thanks to broad administrative interventions in Koraput.
There is something fundamentally wrong with the approach of the government in handling this challenge to internal security. Our governments are routinely confused while dealing with internal security challenges.
There are two ways to confront insurgencies. One is to manage it at a low-key level, like New Delhi has done for decades in the North-East. The other is to go hammer and tongs, as the Sri Lankan forces eventually did against the LTTE, to finish off any serious resistance by the Tamil militants.
Connecting the Dots:
- Examine the changing characteristics and pattern of left wing extremism in India.
- What strategies do left wing extremists adopt to destabilise the democracy? What has been the government’s strategy to thwart such threats? Examine.
- The term ‘urban Naxal’ has gained currency in the last few years. What is the meaning of this term? What are your views on the belief that the so-called urban Naxals are a security threat to India? Comment.