Saturday, March 06, 2010

‘India has lost big chunk to Maoists’\03\06\story_6-3-2010_pg7_33

* Home secy says leftist rebels working on well thought-out plan to overthrow govt by 2050
* Says Maoists not serious about talks
* Says govt has ‘credible’ evidence of local support for the rebels

By Iftikhar Gilani

NEW DELHI: India’s top-most security officer on Friday admitted that the government has lost large tracts of Indian territory spread across eight provinces to radical leftist rebels known as Maoists or Naxalites and warned of a “long bloody war” ahead to recover the so-called liberated zones.

Increasing influence: Speaking at the Institute of Defence Studies and Analysis (IDSA), Home Secretary GK Pillai said the Maoists – mostly active in the tribal regions – were working on a well thought-out plan to slowly increase their influence and to overthrow the Indian state militarily by 2050. He said currently the estimated budget of rebels was at a staggering Rs 14 billion. Pillai also indicated that the precession and the scale of rebel operations suggest that they could be supported or guided by some ex-army officers.

The revelations of the home secretary led some defence experts present in the audience to openly conclude that Pakistan’s problems in its tribal areas pale into insignificance when compared to India’s Maoist predicament. “They (Maoists) are working under a plan. They have capacity to bring many sections of the Indian economy to its knees. But they wouldn’t do it. They are just building up their capacity for a final and lethal assault.” Pillai said. Reading from a document, he said they plan to encircle cities in the last phase and until then do not want to undertake a big operation to enrage the Indian government beyond a limit. Lack of pressure:
The home secretary further said the Maoists were not serious about negotiations because they were not under enough pressure to do so. He said the operations to recover territory from Maoist control would take anything between seven to 10 years, revealing that paramilitary forces did liberate 4,000 square kilometres during 2009. But he candidly admitted that they (Maoists) have take over territories in other regions. “The way I see it, in another two to three years, the tide will turn in India’s favour and it will probably take another seven to 10 years before we take complete control of civil administration,” he maintained.

Rise to power: The officer said the Maoists owe their rise to power to the administrative vacuum and the isolation and deprivation of a large population in remote areas. But he added that socio-economic development could not take place unless these areas are wrested back from rebel control. Pillai said the rebel cadres were so indoctrinated that during interrogations they expressed complete ignorance about any national leader be that Mahatma Gandhi or Jawaharlal Nehru, but had an effusive knowledge of Karl Marx or Vladimir Lenin. “They are totally brainwashed,” he revealed. Last year alone, Maoist violence accounted for over 1,100 deaths, the largest seen in recent years. The government has decided to reassert the authority of the civil administration in these rebel strongholds, Pillai said. But, he admitted that despite large scale operations, not even five percent of the armed cadres have been hit by the security forces. “The Naxals are keeping their armed cadres in reserve for big offensives,” Pillai said.

Citing some important documents seized during anti-Naxal operations, the home secretary said, “The banned guerrillas were operating in remote areas - the soft underbelly of the economy - and trying to influence more and more people to join their movement.” He also did not rule out the possibility of Naxals gaining local support, adding that there was credible evidence of local support for the Naxals. Pillai even hinted that there are fears that ex-servicemen were helping the home-grown rebels.

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