Wednesday, December 16, 2009

India falters in combating Maoist guerrillas: Some Lessons

Source: Frontier India

Active Maoist Guerrilla warfare and passive expansion of the ideology of capturing power through the barrels of the gun is swinging imagination of masses living in the fringe areas of the society-the rural have-nots, forgotten forest dwellers and the exploited masses in different parts of the country. Statistically the Maoist headed movement has affected several states right from West Bengal to Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh. The units in Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu are yet to start organized armed violence. Recent visit to certain areas in Punjab-Sangrur, Faridkot and Bathinda etc areas and certain pockets in Haryana educated me about existence of strong Maoist groups in these so called prosperous states also. Delhi, Kolkata, Patna etc cities continue to be the hub of intellectual sympathizers and promoters of the movement.

The speed with which the movement is spiraling has not been analyzed in the correct perspective by the political decision makers, intellectuals, intelligence agencies and law and order implementing agencies. The reasons are many, parts of which I had shared with the readers in my article Maoist Apparatus and Bridging Old Fault Lines, published in this portal. It is proposed to outline some more details in this essay concluding the last essay.

It is better to have a peep into the efforts of the Union and State governments in the direction of meeting the menace with approximated correct prognosis.

Some readers of the Part 1 of the essay asked me to explain Mass Control and its cyclic effect. Mass Control is both physical and psychological control on the people in a given area, who look up to the STATE for means of livelihood, basic amenities, protection of lives and properties and ensuring upward movement of the people from poverty to prosperity. In vast areas of rural India, forested areas inhabited by the Advasis (aboriginal tribes) and in mining, industrial areas huge segments of people live under extreme penury. In certain areas (including prosperous Punjab) peasants commit suicide in large numbers, marginal landholders become landless, forest areas are denuded by timber tycoons, Tendu leaf (for making bidi) cultivation is hijacked by the moneylenders, forest lands are forcibly grabbed for mining purposes and most of the government schemes to help the rural people with monetary help land up in the pockets of politicians, bureaucrats and middlemen. Over period such people lose confidence on the STATE and it is gradually replaced by the revolutionary group who seek emancipation through violence.

This inevitably follows by armed conflict between the STATE and the Revolutionaries; in this case Maoists. Gradually Law & Order takes priority over other mandatory duties of the STATE. Gradually the conflict takes the shape of guerrilla warfare between the STATE and the Maoists. The STATE tries to retain Mass Control by using police forces and that alienates people to greater degrees. Sometimes the Maoists deliberately attacks police posts located in villages. This invites increased retaliation on the village from the STATE. Under STATE pressure the people surrenders to Maoist Mass Control and the chain of STATE and MAOIST violence continue to haunt the people. Once small areas are “liberated” by the Maoists they run their own government and paralyze all government establishments including schools, health centres lines of communication and even stoppage of payment of revenue to the STATE. The economy of the area is paralyzed and the STATE continues to depend on force as a multiplier ingredient to smash the Maoist movement. The diagram below may illustrate the vicious circle.



Use of the expression Fringe People is an inclusive exercise for incorporating poverty stricken, landless, jobless, uprooted mass of people. The level of poverty, as per unreliable government data is also alarming. It is estimated that 456 million Indians (42% of the total Indian population) now live under the global poverty line of $1.25 per day (PPP). This means a third of the global poor now reside in India. The Planning Commission of India uses different criteria and has estimated that 27.5% of the population lived below the poverty line in 2004–2005, down from 51.3% in 1977–1978, and 36% in 1993-1994. The source for this was the 61st round of the National Sample Survey (NSS) and the criterion used was monthly per capita consumption expenditure below Rs. 356.35 for rural areas and Rs. 538.60 for urban areas. 75% of the poor are in rural areas, most of them are daily wagers, self-employed householders and landless laborers.

Indian economy has grown steadily over the last two decades. Its growth has been uneven when comparing different social groups, economic groups, geographic regions, and rural and urban areas. Between 1999 and 2008, the annualized growth rates for Gujarat (8.8%), Haryana (8.7%), or Delhi (7.4%) were much higher than for Bihar (5.1%), Uttar Pradesh (4.4%), or Madhya Pradesh (3.5%). Poverty rates in rural Orissa (43%) and rural Bihar (41%) are among the world’s most extreme.

The India State Hunger Index 2008, by the International Food Policy Research Institute, Punjab has the best nutritional situation, whereas malnutrition in Madhya Pradesh is worse than in Ethiopia or Sudan. Worse is the condition in tribal areas of Chattisgarh, Orissa, Garhchiroli area of Maharashtra, plain and hill regions of Jharkhand, rural areas of West Bengal and Bihar.

These are areas where the Maoists or Naxals have stepped up their Guerrilla warfare. On a given map the compact area looks like a liberated zone.

But what is the STATE response? I want to focus on two States, Chattisgarh and West Bengal, for sample profiling.

The State response basically veered around restoration of law & order, battling the guerrillas, decimating them through live action and forcing them out of the “liberated areas.” The nucleus of police response is the Police Station. For example Dantewada district in Chattisgarh has 21 police stations and 2 police outposts. Number of Police outposts has gone up during last two years. In addition to state police force a few central police force encampments have also been established. The hill district having 9046.29 Sq kms area has only 478.93 kms tarred road. Police mobility is extremely limited. Average strength of a police station is about 10-15, except on occasions Special Forces are attached to a police station for raiding Maoist hideouts. Previously most of the police stations were located in makeshift or dilapidated structures without any watch tower, perimeter defences and faster communication facilities. The phone lines are unreliable and are generally deactivated by the Maoists. Wireless communication is being improved and in recent times some police officers have been given mobile phones. The problem with mobile phones is that towers are very few and often some existing towers are blasted out by the Naxals.

A police station is supposed to dominate an area of over 450 kms. With the given available strength in a working day (normal average is 7 out of 10), poor motor transport facility, inadequacy of wireless communication and supply of antiquated rifles the presence of normal police force is considered insignificant; not fit for fighting Maoist rebels equipped with modern arms. The inventories of the Maoists include Kalashnikov rifles, Light Machine Guns, 2” mortars and assorted rapid firing weapons. In addition to these they possess several kinds of landmines and IEDs. The Maoists are well trained in guerrilla warfare, jungle warfare and tactics of ambush. Their encampments are mobile. The guerrillas have no fixed HQ. In fact, a given guerrilla group do not spend nights in the same village. The groups are mainly composed of compatible tribe members.

In Bastar area major tribes are Gond #, Abhuj #, Maria*, Bhatra #*, Halbaa#*, Dhurvaa#, Muria#*, Bison Horn Maria #*. The # marked tribes are by and large not supporting the Maoists; while * marked tribes are Maoist supporters. The #* marked tribes mean partly loyal to the government and partly to the Maoists. Loyalty to the government depends on quantum of presence of the government and governance. Most of these tribal inhabited areas are extremely poverty ridden. Cultivation, harvesting forest resources etc are main sources of livelihood. In most cases funds provided under Integrated Rural Development Programme, NREG, Sampoorna Gramin Rozgar Yojana and other social security programmes do not reach the real people. For example, if an amount of 300 is sanctioned per family under NREG the fortunate family may get rupees 100, if they are lucky. In most cases out of 100 about 7-9% people actually receive the amount; rest goes to pockets of the bureaucrats, local politicians, leaders of local self government and even petty clerks. The STATE government sanctions the amounts to the district collectors, allocated by the central government. From that point downwards the money develops wings and the real recipients remain where they were. Same is the fate with Anganwadi system introduced in some of the areas. Right from the district office to the lowest governing tool in the panchayat and certain elements in the Anganwadi institutions share the money and the real education and total child development system remain where they were.

We will discuss these aspects in later parts of the essay.

Police operations have three basic formats: group patrolling (often in platoon strength, rarely in company strength); village searches, and rare ambush parties. In group patrolling the general trend is to march in a column with 15-20 feet distance between two sepoys. These parties do not have mine sweeping vehicles and mostly they are not equipped with handheld mine detecting devices. This results in frequent mine explosions and police casualties. The information that a police party was planning patrolling in a particular direction somehow or other reaches the Maoists through their information network, interception of VHF radio talks. They plant antipersonnel mines on the likely routes to be taken by the patrol parties.

My experience in Nagaland and Manipur and the experiments conducted by army and paramilitary units indicated that instead of a single column patrol party or area domination party it was safer to send out two other parallel parties (smaller in size); one on both flanks of the main party. This tactics paid good dividends and guerrilla parties waiting in ambush were often taken by surprise.

Village searches are mostly perfidious. Police and Salwa Judum parties often enters homes, violate privacy of women and forcibly take away eatables including fowls, goats etc. Often the villagers are made to assemble in one place and some are tortured to obtain information. Police commanders do not realize that such tactics and illegal plundering and faulty operational methodology alienate the people more and they prefer the Maoists to buy protection.

Deployment of ambush parties are not done on the basis of precise human intelligence. This is the weakest area of anti- guerrilla operations. The tribesmen have basic distrust for State administration; they are alienated by malpractices of timber-tycoons, Tendu leaf contractors, loan sharks, Mahajans (who advance money against crop) and of course against police, whom they consider as ambassadors of State repression. In my discussions with three police chiefs in Maoist affected areas I noted with dismay that my serving colleagues have not been able to revamp the intelligence apparatus. The normal state intelligence outfit and its district detachments are burdened with multifarious-political errands to normal terrorist-jihad activities. They are supposed to keep track of dowry killing, starvation death by agricultural workers, village feuds and most law & order problems. They have no focused training and resource to gather human intelligence (HUMINT) about the Maoists.

It is high time the State governments create special intelligence cells for Maoist problems. In a State like Jharkhand a special intelligence cell should consist of minimum 500 officers and men, specially trained by the Intelligence Bureau and other outfits handling commando and guerrilla warfare. Several meetings of the Union Home Minister with the State police chiefs and advisories to the Chief Ministers have not been able to make them understand that without high quality HUMINT it is not possible to carry out successful armed actions against the Maoists. Every district of the affected states should have a contingent of the special intelligence unit. These units should have attached compliments of trained commandos, who can move with lightening speed to intercept the Maoist group informed upon by the human assets. The DG police and the Operations Chief in each district may order immediate planned action without waiting for bureaucratic shenanigans. Unfortunately, in States like Chhattisgarh (despite an efficient DG Police) and Jharkhand such modern anti guerrilla concepts are yet to be implemented. Neither the Union and State governments have looked into the old British model in Malaysia, US model in Vietnam, and the models practiced in Greece and Italy nor they have gone for any other innovations improving upon India’s own experiences in insurgency infested areas. The politicians talk for the sake of befooling the people.

While examining the Maoist menace at Chhatisgarh I would like to conclude by observing that the State administration is not equipped with intelligence back up, sophisticated weapons, all weather communication system and speedy mobility. Even if some Central paramilitary forces are inducted they cannot operate without help of local police and intelligence. As newcomers they are more vulnerable. Central forces can only succeed if battalions are allowed to dig in the affected areas for years together, build up defences, sanitize the villages and develop their own HUMINT potential. Temporary visiting units are guests; they are not effective operative units. Delhi must understand this and persuade the States to borrow Central forces for at least ten years. Units may change, but CRPF must be replaced by CRPF for the sake of continuity and force-homogeneity. A contingent of CRPF to be replaced by a contingent CISF after three months is a useless exercise. Minimum rotation of forces can ensure better operational capability.

While on Chattisgarh the issue of Salwa Judum is required to be briefly examined. Pro-Maoist intellectuals have painted pictures of “village grouping” by the government in the name of mobilising villagers against the Maoists. “Village Grouping” was successfully tried by the army in Mizoram. The principle was to deny water to the fish and make them vulnerable to lack of oxygen. There is no doubt that the villagers, either out of “Mass Control” factor or fear of decimation provide help to the Maoists. Once the villages are “grouped” (temporarily) the Maoists would be denied the water to swim about freely. Human rights groups and even the judiciary have intervened in the matter. I would strongly advocate revival of the system of VVF (as in Manipur), Village Guards (as in Nagaland) and Special Police Officers (as in Punjab) for deployment after sustained training by a paramilitary force in guerrilla warfare and handling of medium and heavy weapons.

IN CASE THE MAOSISTS HAVE THE PROCLAIMED RIGHT TO WAGE PEOPLE’S WAR, THE PEOPLES’ HAVE THE RIGHT TO ORGANISE TEMSELVES WITH STATE ASSISTANCE TO DEFEND THEMSELVES. THE STATE CANNOT ABDICATE ITS DUTIES AND THE PEOPLE CANNOT WAIT TO BE SLAUGHTERED AT THE ALTER OF MAOISM, SIMPLY BECAUSE SOME HUMAN RIGHTS GROUPS AND SOME COURTS INTERVENE.

The Constitution has bestowed rights on the people to defend themselves. No court can rule against this fundamental right.

Besides Chattisgarh I would like the readers to visit Lalgarh, Jangalmahal etc places in West Midnapore of West Bengal. Maoist activities (Naxal) are not new in this district of West Bengal bordering Bihar/Jharkhand. The Naxalite movement in Debra, Gopiballabhpur in mid-1969 had wrought the mass-killing violent movement for over 7 years, before the peak of the movement could be blunted. In fact, Debra, Gopiballabhpur, Jhargram, Shalboni, Jangal Mahal, Lalgarh etc areas are in West Midnapore district. These are most backward areas of Bengal. Except Haldia ports complex, Kharagpur and a few pockets nearer to Kolkata rest of the district is as backward as the adjacent districts of Purulia, Birbhum and Bankura are.

Some efforts were made, too late in the regime of the CPM, to start industrialization in Singur (Nano factory of TATA) and Nandigram (chemical complex of Salim group). Here is another classic case of political rivalry between the CPM and Trinamool Congress feuding over industrialization in agricultural area and politicization of land acquisition on the plea of displacement of the rural people. This feud helped TMC, Jamiat-ul-Ulama-e-Hind and several NGOs, and indirectly the Congress to create severe disturbances. The government had expressed intention of acquisition, the Haldia ports authority had issued a notice about likely acquisition, but no government action had been taken to forcibly occupy the land for the proposed SEZ at Nandigram. The TMC led agitation helped the Maoists to walk into the vortex of tornado created by political rivalry. There is no denial of fact that the issue of acquision of agricultural land for industrial use in Nandigram (Midnapore) and Singur (Hooghly) had kicked off bloody trails of political tornado, but these politicized movements might have had earned a few more votes for the TMC and the Congress, but the momentum had encouraged the Maoists to slip into Jhargram, Shalboni, Lalgarh and even Midnapore Sadar areas with arms and explosives. In Nandigram and nearby Singur area the Bhumi Uchhed Pratirodh Committee and Jami Rakkha Committee etc bodies were organised and were highly infiltrated by the Maoists.

Nandigram and Singur were the stages where TMC and Congress rehearsed political revival and the Maoists initiated a new phase of sustained movement in west Midnapore, basically a forested single crop area, mostly inhabited by the tribal people-Santhal and Oraon, Majhi, Mahato, Ho, Munda etc and sprinkling of lower caste Hindus. Here also a front organisation was floated styled as Peoples Committee against Police Atrocities. This mass organisation was headed by CPM’s local committee member Chatrdhar Mahato. Besides this front organisation the Maoists also organised Solidarity Forum for Lalgarh, Shramajivi Swastha Udyog, Utsha Manush, Janaswastha Committee, and Janaswastha Swadhikar Mancha etc. These front organisations received support from Bengali intellectuals, writers and film makers.

The apex social organization of the Santhals, the Bharat Jakat Majhi Madwa Juan Gaonta took up the leadership of the struggle, although the leader of the organization, the “Disham Majhi” Nityananda Hembram openly professed that they were being guided by the people’s movement and they had no control on it. The upsurge of adivasis is continuing unabated and is also spreading to newer areas. They laid siege of Jhargram and only after discussion between the Bharat Jakat Majhi Madwa Juan Gaonta and the administration, the siege of was partially lifted. The blockade on the road connecting Jhargram and Dahijuri was lifted on 14th November but the Bharat Jakat Majhi Madwa could not convince the protesters to lift the blockades of the other roads connecting Jhargram. Besides Lalgarh, the movement has now spread to Binpur, Jhargram, Jamboni, Shalboni, Belpahari, Garbeta and Gopiballavpur. People’s response to joint State and Central operation was so spontaneous that the movement had spread to the last two blocks of the Jhargram sub-division, Nayagram and Sankrail. Nayagram block was disconnected by piling tree trunks on the roads in Dhankamra and Barpat. Dhankhori, Gajashimul, Mudakati and Kungarda areas of Sankrail block have also been blockaded. On the other hand, all connections to police stations and camps in the Belpahari block of Jhargram sub-division has been cut off. A group of around 500 armed tribal blockaded the Neguriya police camp near Chakadoba in Belpahari. The local shopkeepers and traders have declared that they would not supply anything to the policemen in the camps.

The West Bengal government cannot deny its responsibility for neglecting the area. While Below Poverty Line index in the state is 27% in West Midnapore areas the index is 43% to 37%. There are about 12 government aided schools in the tribal area, but hardly any teacher is available, The Health Centres are almost nonexistent. There is no regular doctor, least speaking of free medicine supply. Some sample study was made about a few central funded welfare projects in the Jhargram-Lalgarh areas. People have not even heard about Sampoorna Gramin Rojgar Yojana (SGRY), Rural Housing, Self Employment Programme, Berozgar Bhatta (unemployment allowance), and National Rural Employment Guarantee (NREG) etc schemes.

A sample study of Belpahadi indicated that the CPM leaders offered some NREG facility to their cadre. Only 7% of rest of the tribal people received some NREG support. Some sampling was made of Anganwadi (rural school) scheme in Sankrail and Nayagram areas. It was found that only 5 to 7% benefit reached the targeted people. Rest of the money was misappropriated by the village authorities, Block officials and even top notches of the Aganwadi scheme. A sample study of the Integral Rural Development Programme (IRDP) was made in Belda area. The findings were disheartening. The amount received by the district and Block authorities and the Panchayats were distributed amongst the political sharks. The real tribal people received nothing (CPM supporters excluded). It is not possible for one person to study the entire developmental activities. But the if samples are any indicator, it must be said that the governmental tools were misused and the benefits offered by Delhi were either eaten by the political-bureaucratic cartel and very little trickled down to the deserving tribal population.

The magnitude of the national problem of sharks eating up the smaller fries was horribly exemplified in a publication of the Times of India (Nov. 26, 2009) about 22,853 ghost employees drawing pay for decades from the Municipal Corporation of Delhi to the tune of Rs. 17 crores per month. Statistics about only one agency has been dug out. There are about 10 such departments under Delhi government which maintain ghost employees costing the tax payers about Rs. 50 crores per month.

What is happening in the rural areas and in the forested tracts as well as in vast mining tracts in different parts of the country, where India’s shining global economy is yet to shine even for fractions of days in any given year. Nearly 30% of India’s population goes to bed in empty stomach and about 40% can barely manage two square meals in any given day. In Lalgarh area the same misfortune of the people was noticed by non-partisan observers.

Militarily the government of West Bengal failed miserably to control the Maoist movement. Local formations of the CPM (notoriously known for motor cycle groups) dominated the area and maimed all political opposition and even reasonable ventilation of genuine grievances. They were, at many places, supported by the local police. The ordinary people lost touch with the administration and the administration was blissfully ignorant about the Maoists building up local committees, arming the people, bringing in improvised explosive devices and building up comprehensive people’s fronts. Obviously, these fronts received support from Trinamool Congress and Congress, who thought of Nandigram like exploitation of the Maoists for retrieving political ground. This was a miscalculation. The Maoists are very active in adjacent Jharkhand, Orissa and Bihar. The borders are open. When chased the Orissa and Jharkhand Maoists slip in Midnapore and Purulia districts of West Bengal. Similarly, the Maoists also recruit their cadres from West Bengal tribal population. The intellectual brains of Bengal, Andhra Pradesh and Orissa guide the movement. Local leaders are also emerging in Jharkhand, Chattisgarh and other parts of the country.

Let us look into the military formation in Lalgarh and Jangal Mahal area of West Midnapore. The Maoists have organised village level squads for cutting of road connection, planting IED or anti-personnel and anti-tank mines (to hit mine proof vehicles). These village committees are also assigned the task of attacking isolated police posts. Major police stations are at West Midnapore Kotwali, Sankrail, Jhargram, Lalgarh, Shalboni (also EFR headquarter) Manikpara (near Kalaikunda airbase) etc. Besides the District HQ the average strength of police stations were (before joint operations) 10-15. The police were armed with .303 obsolete rifles. One jeep per police station was the only means of communication. Phone lines were unreliable and cell phones were not in profuse use because of lack of towers. Wireless communication was also generally absent. The police depended on muscle support from the CPM cadre.

Once the organised Maoist activities started in Lalgarh, Jhargram, Shalboni, and Jangal Mahal etc areas police resistance evaporated. The State did not deploy sufficient numbers of the crack Eastern Frontier Rifles (EFR) and other State Armed Police Battalions. Kolkata depended on ramshackle police forces and party cadre. Once these efforts were blunted by the front organisations the trained Maoists’ reserve arms caches in the hill areas were brought in. This is proved by the daring attack on Sankrail police station by 100 Maoists and kidnapping of the officer in charge. The Maoists have attacked government establishments in West Midnapore Sadar (planting of mine), Jhargram sub-divisional HQ, Shalboni, Nayagram and other places.

The joint Central and State police operations (seen on TV) were mainly conducted in plains areas of Lalgarh, amidst populated segments and in some cases under pan of TV cameras. My enquiry with local people, not connected with the Maoist movement, mostly apolitical, some owing allegiance to CPM, revealed that the State government first tried to augment ridiculously low strength in the police stations. They also depended on the trained party cadre to build up local resistance. However, backed by other tribal organisation, Trinamool Congress and Congress the Peoples Committee against Police Atrocities (PCPA) organised sustained opposition to police incursion. The main Maoist guerrillas provided support by planting mines and opening fire on the Central and State forces under cover of deep forested areas. The joint operation was limited to regaining government control on the Lalgarh tract and no sustained and planned operations were conducted in the hills adjoining Jharkhand and Orissa. The hardcore Maoist cadres infiltrated from Jharkhand and Orissa and revived the Naxal movement in West Midnapore areas along with pockets in Birbhum and Bankura. If a bird’s eye view is taken of the compact Maoist affected areas in this region it would seem that the belt between Birbhum (home district of Union Finance Minister), Bankura, West Midnapore, Jharkhand and Orissa is painted either red or pink. This is what the Maoists call “liberated zone.”

What are the preparations of the West Bengal government? It is a sad and shady story. Without going into the political skullduggery it can be safely concluded that the CPM and other Left partners had built up groups of Banditos, often armed with lethal weapons and homemade bombs. After about 25 years other political groups, such as the Trinamool Congress and its passive partner the Congress have also started organizing groups of Banditos, who gradually gathered the courage of physically clashing with the Left opponents. Both the sides made West Bengal into a political killing field. The Maoists are known for taking advantage of such mass chaos and side with one or the other to progress in their planned advance in selected pockets. Working in conjunction with the violent political forces they establish their own bases.

Historically the CPI (ML), the hardcore Charu-Kanu-Jangal faction was against the CPM line. My personal experiences in Naxalbari operations gave me impressions that Charu Majumdar was vehemently opposed to any negotiation with the Left leaders like Hare Krishna Konar. However, later in 1972 elections elements of the Naxals supported the Congress in districts like Midnapore, Bankura and Birbhum, Jalpaiguri, Burdwan and Hooghly etc. Besides the Bangladesh war effect support from the Naxals also resulted in resounding victory for the Congress. That CPI (M) should crash from 113 in 1971 to 14 in the 1972 was totally unexpected so was the Congress party’s tally of 216 seats. The point made is that the Maoists are not averse to side with political parties of their choice to augment their own agenda. They enter a new area as tails of political parties and later establish bases of their own. If it were Congress in 1972 to seemingly exploit the Maoists, it is Trinamool Congress and its appendage, Congress in 2011. Political parties forget the universal lesson that the tiger they often ride devours the rider sooner than later.

The State government’s dependence on local police and party cadre misfired. The Maoists initially took advantage of anti-SEZ proposals of the government and often violent agitation started by TMC and its allies. Nandigram to Singur to West Midnapore was not reached in one lap. It took the Maoists and their political allies (tactical allies only) to build up movement in West Midnapore around the Union and State government’s proposal to allot 4,500 acres of land near Shalboni to Jindal Steel Works SEZ factory. The chain of events started after the 2nd November, 2009 land mine explosion targeting the convoy of West Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and union steel and mines minister Ram Vilas Paswan as they were returning from the inauguration of the Jindal Steel Works SEZ. It was alleged by the Maoists and their political allies that the land in question belonged to the government and was earmarked for distribution among the tribals. The chain of events resulted in violence between CPM cadres on the one hand and Trinamool cadres supported by Maoist front organisations on the other. Unable to resist the “occupation” of Lalgarh, Jangal Mahal etc areas the State government requested for central forces and they seemingly “reoccupied” the tract from the Maoists.

The fact is that the government of West Bengal still does not have any plan to build up forces to fight the Maoist guerrillas. They, in collaboration with guerrillas from Jharkhand and Orissa have started hitting at targets even in the heart of the district head quarter. Some semblance of law and order is being maintained by the State police and the Central forces deputed to help the local authorities. There are plans to start another combing operation. But the holes in the government nets are so big that small Maoists Pisces swim in the area unhindered. The State governments in West Bengal, Jharkhand and Orissa are yet to prepare a joint blueprint for fighting the guerrilla forces. The Central governments often announce certain offensive joint actions. However, except deputation of certain elements of central forces in the affected States no Joint Command has been conceived as yet.

There is no intelligence coordination between the State governments and the central intelligence agencies. Police stations are the best bases from where local intelligence is collected for tactical operational purposes. The intelligence networks in the rural and urban police stations have dried up. The area chowkidars, dafadars, lower revenue officials, gram sevaks, and other rural government employees have ceased to feed the police stations. Human intelligence is appallingly poor. Even the central intelligence agencies have not been able to build up HUMINT resources in the affected areas. Anti-Guerrilla warfare cannot be fought by wild goose’s chase. Forces have to act on precise intelligence.

As the Maoists often use cell phones it is not impossible to locate the GPS coordinate of the phone under use. Once located helicopter borne forces can raid the area and neutralize the target. This aspect of coordination between signal intelligence (SIGINT) and airborne attack has not been conceived as yet.
On the other hand the Maoists have excellent HUMINT assets from amongst the villagers and even educated sympathizers. Villagers not cooperating with the Maoists and suspected to be informers of the police are mercilessly punished. Recent incidents of cruel killing of police officers and innocent villagers prove that Mass Control mechanisms of the Maoists are near complete.

It is understood that the Maoists in Chattisgarh, Jharkhand. Orissa and West Bengal have obtained VHF communication sets from former LTTE members. These are used for communication between the Command with the Squads. VHF communications are able to transmit to shorter distances. If transmitted from a higher location the signals can be received even at a distance of 40 kilometers. Often the desired height is achieved by hanging an antenna on high rise trees. The State police are yet to install array of VHF monitoring instruments to pick up signals from the sophisticated VHF transreceivers used by the guerrilla forces. The police forces often use VHF sets in analog mode and not in automatic digital encryption mode. These can be easily intercepted either by identifying the frequency or by scanning the frequency logs. Police forces have not taken security precaution while using VHF sets during operations. These limitations are required to be attended forthwith.

The government agencies have just started thinking in terms of using Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) to survey the affected areas, locate hideouts and send the live broadcasts to the nearby forces to mount counter attack. Use of UAV in forested terrains may not yield expected results, unless the government acquires infrared equipped cameras for the UAVs to enable these flying machines to look down at precise targets through thick foliage and often mist covers.

Sample studies in Chattisgarh and West Bengal (broader study in all affected areas is necessary) it is found that the State police in Chattisgarh is better prepared and their mechanism of operations are more scientific. There has been marginal increase in HUMINT assets, but paucity of force prevents the State from comprehensive area domination. In West Bengal the police forces are yet to wake up to the reality that the Maoists of today are not ragtag Naxals of seventies and eighties. These guerrillas are well trained, well armed and indoctrinated. They follow the Maoist principles of guerrilla warfare scrupulously. Bengal police forces, paralyzed by political pressure, have not been exposed to anti-guerrilla warfare.

The thin police forces are so inadequate that they are not enough in numbers to take on sustained anti-guerrilla warfare, they lack in weaponry and training in anti-guerrilla warfare. Even the Central forces are not trained to fight the guerrillas by organizing them into effective counter-guerrilla forces. Some States have designated certain numbers of policemen as Special Forces with fancy names like Cobra Force etc. The Centre and the States may like to consider assisting each affected State to raise minimum 7 battalions of anti-guerrilla Special Forces trained in the army’s anti-insurgency warfare school. The present model of training some policemen in the model of National Security Guard (NSG) training manual may sharpen the efficiency edges. But the NSG is basically a static operations force for tackling static incidents like Mumbai incident of 26/11. It is not meant for deployment in anti-guerrilla warfare. The specially trained anti-guerrilla warfare police forces, like the VVF mentioned earlier live on and in the ground divided into strike squads coordinated by the battalion and higher commands. To fight guerrillas the forces have to adopt guerrilla ways of life.

The Central government often announces coordinated joint operations. This constructive idea can better be enforced if the entire mobilized forces (from different colours) are fused into a single operational force put under command of a Special Divisional Command (like the army) and operationalised in allocated territories for specializing in that territory till they are successful to retrieve the given territory from the Mass Control and military control of the Maoists.

However, it must be added that police action cannot alone eradicate the Maoist problems. An integrated and balanced approach and inclusive action plan is necessary to implement developmental works, providing employment, remodeling rural economy, education, health care and agricultural activities. Mushrooming of enrooted corruption in different welfare schemes, as discussed in this essay are required to be probed. The government must ensure that minimum 70% of the welfare funds and yojanas benefit the people. At present only 10-15% benefits reach the real affected people.

Combating Maoist guerrillas require total attention of the political decision makers and bureaucrats at macro and micro levels. Otherwise, present efforts would prove to be a war exercise between the State and certain segments of the people, who may ultimately be 25-35% of the population

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