50 YEARS OF NAXALBARI

Skilled to kill

Skilled  to kill Unending violence: A vehicle blown up by Maoists in Gadchiroli in Maharashtra | PTI

The threat from left wing extremism has grown on the technology side and waned on the ideological front

  • According to CRPF chief K. Durga Prasad, the ability of Maoists to make IEDs (improvised explosive devices) is improving day by day.

In a recent raid in the red zone on the Bihar-Jharkhand border, the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) found documents prepared by Maoists that had references to RDX. The mention of the explosive material set off alarm bells in the security establishment.

“The time is ripe for Maoists to launch a major attack,” former home secretary G.K. Pillai told THE WEEK. “They have been lying low for a long time now, which is an indicator that they may strike anytime. The worrisome part is that, for the last one year, our security forces have also been lying low, instead of launching steady action coupled with developmental work.”

According to CRPF chief K. Durga Prasad, the ability of Maoists to make IEDs (improvised explosive devices) is improving day by day. He said they kept innovating and had come up with ‘soapy bombs’ and syringes for triggering IED blasts. Over the past decade, the threat from left wing extremism has grown on the technology side and waned on the ideological front. “We do not see the thought process or intake into the party of people who were driven ideologically to the Naxal movement,” Prasad told THE WEEK. “Earlier college students were drawn to the movement, but, over the years, it has become a trickle.”

Chhattisgarh remains the biggest theatre of Maoist activities, followed by Bihar and Jharkhand. Also worrying security agencies are the Maoist pockets in Odisha, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Gadchiroli in Maharashtra. The killing of leaders and operatives has considerably weakened the Maoist leadership. In fact, the Communist Party of India (Maoist) has been finding it difficult to fill vacancies in its politburo and central committee.

Security agencies, both in states and at the Centre, have become generous in declaring rewards for information about the whereabouts of Maoist leaders. CPI (Maoist) general secretary Ganapathy has a Rs 2.52-crore bounty on his head. His colleagues and politburo members Namabala Kesava Rao and Prashant Bose have rewards of Rs 1.57 crore and Rs 1.47 crore on them.

The states are also paying handsome rewards to those who are keen to join the mainstream. “The liberal surrender policy has resulted in a spike in the number of ultras laying down their arms,” said a top security official. “But there is always a danger of the policy becoming a money-making scheme for them.”

Pillai said the only way to counter the Maoist threat was to focus on winning the hearts and minds of tribals and villagers. “The Maoist spread will decline only if we build roads and connect those places which are far from the reach of government agencies,” he said. “But the development work in these areas is very slow.”

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