Thursday, May 13, 2010

3 Maoists arrested in Orissa

Bhubaneswar, May 13 (PTI) Three Maoists, involved in many attacks, were today arrested in separate anti-Naxal operations in Orissa's Malkangiri and Mayurbhanj districts, police said.

32-year-old Adma Madkami was arrested during a joint combing operation by BSF, CRPF and Orissa's elite anti-Naxal Special Operation Group at Teakguda forest in Kalimela area of Malkangiri, SP Anirudh Singh said.

Madkami, an active Maoist member who joined the outfit 10 years ago, had undergone intensive training in guerrilla warfare, arms handling and landmine blast, the SP said.

He was involved in many offences including a major attack on a police team in 2003 and booth-capturing and violence during the last general elections in the state, Singh said.

Two other Maoists -- Rupai Tudu (28) and Ruhia Hembram (21) -- were arrested from Suliapada area at Mayurbhanj district, Mayurbhanj SP Dayal Gangwar said.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Make the war public

May 13th, 2010

Chhattisgarh now finds itself in the same situation as Andhra Pradesh some 20 years ago.

In the extremist-affected areas of Andhra Pradesh in the 90s, landmines were set off by extremists, frequently killing unwary policemen; innocent people were branded as police informants, petty businessmen as exploiters and small-time farmers as class enemies and killed.

Extremists could also impose and collect levies with impunity from the contractors executing works in the interior and forest areas. In towns, business groups and associations were given monthly payment schedules. There was all-round demoralisation and a pervasive sense of insecurity; every political minion and subaltern administrator wanted armed police protection.

Politicians often and on occasion even senior civil servants, bought peace with extremists by appearing to be critical of the police. At least one judge ruled that every case of “encounter death” be registered as a case of murder against the police and investigated.

Self-styled “intellectuals” masquerading as civil society criticised the police force and accused them of “fake encounters”, in turn finding justification for the murder and mayhem caused by the extremists. At the end of it all — after some 4,000 civilians and over 600 policemen and Home Guards had lost their lives — the state managed to get the better of extremists and contain violence.

Are there any lessons for Chhattisgarh in the neighbouring Andhra Pradesh? There seem to be some.

Extremism was recognised in Andhra Pradesh right from the beginning both as a law and order and socio-economic problem, a continuing fight against the remnants of the old Telangana feudalism. A multi-pronged strategy was needed to address it.

Attempts were made by successive governments to bring the extremists to the negotiating table. While one chief minister described them as “patriots” who took to the forest to fight for justice, another not only gave them total amnesty but insisted on the police securing bail for those facing trial even for heinous crimes.

Meantime, urban armchair intellectuals romanticised extremism as a righteous struggle and gave the extremists some respectability. This also gave them enough publicity to gain some support among the unemployed youth.

Through the 80s, almost all government departments and many elected representatives behaved as though Naxalism did not concern them and if at all, that it was the police’s problem. The civil courts, lawyers and media also chose to blame the police.

By 1992, a dozen politicians, including an ex-minister, were killed. There were also scores of abductions and extortions. At this stage everyone woke up to the need for a comprehensive strategy to tackle the problem.

The multi-pronged strategy included both development and counter-insurgency measures:

* A ban was imposed on the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) and its front organisations like Radical Students’ Union and Progressive Democratic Students’ Union to check activities like bandhs and to stop fresh recruitment.

* A new legislation, Public Security Act, cut off the nexus between Naxals and their sympathisers in the affected villages.

* Intensive development of interior areas, particularly of roads and communications, was undertaken.

* A solution was sought to the various issues raised by extremists through a special cell functioning in the chief minister’s office.

* Employment was promoted in a big way. There was, in fact, a special focus on employing tribals in good numbers in all government departments, particularly the police, to give them a greater sense of participation in governance.

* Procurement of forest produce was taken away from forest contractors and entrusted with government corporations, thereby cutting off the flow of funds to extremists.

* A rehabilitation policy for those extremists wanting to leave the movement was put into action.

* Perception management, or counter-propaganda, through well-trained cultural troupes was undertaken.

A well thought-out policing strategy was also evolved, the thrust of which was providing safe exit for those wanting to come out, getting the top leadership through intelligence operations, and neutralising the armed dalams through the intelligence-driven specialised Greyhounds force.

Above all, there was a consensus among the political parties that law and order couldn’t wait till all the socio-economic problems were resolved. Both had to go together.

Some of the gruesome offences committed by Naxals and well-orchestrated counter propaganda changed public perception towards extremism to a considerable extent.

Though there were occasional charges of police excesses, there was general improvement in the standards of policing. After a few officers were killed, low-key policing was introduced which proved very effective.

Some of these steps seem relevant to the Chhattisgarh situation. In Chhattisgarh, Maoists have made a major issue of the exploitation of mineral deposits in tribal areas by MNCs and the private sector which has to be immediately addressed. If these projects cannot wait, the government would do well to entrust this job to public sector undertakings, ensuring that all resultant benefits and employment go to local tribals. This would remove a major irritant.

Likewise, beedi leaf picking or bamboo contracts could be taken away from private contractors and entrusted to government corporations with improved wages for tribals. This would serve the tribals well while cutting off the flow of funds to Maoists.

There should be no attempt to privatise policing which in a way Salwa Judum is all about. It is about time this group was wound up. Instead, well-protected, well-officered and numerically strong police stations — with not less than 25 officers and 100 men in each station — need to be established all over the affected areas. These have to be mostly manned by the tribals themselves.

The role of the paramilitary forces should be limited to guarding these police stations and carrying out field operations. Ultimately, it is the civil police that can and should fight the Maoists.

With the example of Andhra Pradesh before them, it shall not take Chhattisgarh more than five or six years to restore peace. But that requires a motivated police force, a bureaucracy committed to the cause of development and, above all, a mature political leadership.

C. Anjaneya Reddy is a former IPS officer


माओवाद का अंध समर्थन

प्रसिद्ध अमेरिकी लेखक हावर्ड फास्ट ने अमेरिका की कम्युनिस्ट पार्टी में 16 वर्ष काम किया था। वह लिखते हैं कि पार्टी से सहानुभूति रखने वाले बाहरी बुद्धिजीवियों में प्राय: पार्टी-सदस्यों से भी अधिक अंधविश्वास दिखता है। कम्युनिज्म के सिद्धात-व्यवहार के ज्ञान या अनुभव के बदले वे अपनी कल्पना और प्रवृत्ति से अपनी राय बना लेते हैं। यह बात दुनिया भर के कम्युनिस्ट समर्थकों के लिए सच है। भारत में नवीनतम उदाहरण हैं अरुंधती राय, जिन्होंने कुछ समय से नक्सली कम्युनिस्टों के समर्थन का झडा उठा रखा है।

हाल में अरुंधती दंडकारण्य में माओवादियों के साथ कुछ दिन बिता कर लौटीं। तब लिखा बीस हजार शब्दों का 'वाकिंग विद द कामरेड्स'। इसे पढ़कर पुरानी बात याद आती है- जिस बात को साबित करना हो, उसे ही सिद्ध मान लो। भारत सरकार, राज्य पुलिस, माओवादी सेना, सलवा जुडूम, खनन कंपनियां, क्रातिकारी इतिहास, हिंदूवादी मिशनरी, आदिवासियों पर सरकारी कहर, चेयरमैन माओ, महान दृष्टा चारू मजूमदार, प्यारे-प्यारे माओवादी लड़के-लड़कियां, ग्रामीणों का नक्सल प्रेम, मीडिया की नक्सलियों के प्रति दुष्टता, निर्दोष मोहम्मद अफजल, हिंसक हिंदू उग्रवादी, बड़ा जमींदार महेंद्र करमा, भारत नामक 'हिंदू स्टेट', आदि अनगिनत विषय और प्रस्थापनाओं पर एक भी तथ्य उसमें नहीं मिलता। जो भी बात आती है, वह आरंभ से ही निष्कर्ष के रूप में। उदाहरणार्थ, लेख के आरंभ में पी चिदंबरम को भारत के गरीबों पर छेड़े गए निर्मम युद्ध का मुख्य कार्यकारी अधिकारी कहा गया है। इसी मुहावरेदार अंदाज में आगे तरह-तरह के रंग-बिरंगे और मनमाने निष्कर्ष हैं। ऐसे अनगिनत निष्कषरें का अंतिम निष्कर्ष यह है कि सन 1947 से ही भारत एक औपनिवेशिक शक्ति है, जिसने दूसरों पर सैनिक आक्रमण करके उनकी जमीन हथियाईं। इसी तरह भारत के तमाम आदिवासी क्षेत्र स्वभाविक रूप से नक्सलवादियों के हैं, जिन पर इंडियन स्टेट ने सैनिक बल से अवैध कब्जा किया हुआ है। इस साम्राज्यवादी युद्ध-खोर 'अपर कास्ट हिंदू स्टेट' ने मुस्लिमों, ईसाइयों, सिखों, कम्युनिस्टों, दलितों, आदिवासियों और गरीबों के खिलाफ युद्ध छेड़ रखा है।

पूरे लेख में आदि से अंत तक स्थापित भाव है कि वास्तव में नक्सली ही वैध सत्ता हैं और भारत सरकार नितात अवैध चीज है। उसके साथ-साथ पुलिस, संविधान, कानून संहिता, न्यायालय, कारपोरेट मीडिया आदि सब कुछ मानो अपनी परिभाषा से ही बाहरी, अतिक्रमणकारी और अनुचित सत्ता हैं। जबकि नक्सली और उनकी बनाई हुई 'जनता सरकार' ही सत्ता के सहज अधिकारी हैं, जिन्हें जबरन बेदखल रखा जा रहा है। इसके लिए 'द्विज/नाजी भावनाओं' से सलवा-जुडूम नामक संगठन बनाया गया है, जिसका उद्देश्य गांवों को लूटना, जलाना, सामूहिक हत्याएं और सामूहिक दुष्कर्म करना है। संक्षेप में, भारत सरकार और राज्य सरकारें हर बुरी, घृणित, अन्यायपूर्ण चीजों की प्रतिनिधि हैं, जबकि माओवादी हर तरह की सभ्य, सुसंस्कृत, कलात्मक, मानवीय भावनाओं और गतिविधियों के संचालक व प्रेरक हैं। इस तरह का लेखन वामपंथी लफ्फाजी का प्रतिनिधि नमूना है। वस्तुत: यह चारू मजूमदार और माओ के भी गुरु व्लादीमीर लेनिन की शैली का अनुकरण है। लगभग सौ साल पहले रूसी कम्युनिस्टों को सार्वजनिक लेखन-भाषण की तकनीक सिखाते हुए लेनिन ने कहा था कि जो भी तुम्हारा विरोधी या प्रतिद्वंद्वी हो, पहले उस पर 'प्रमाणित दोषी का बिल्ला चिपका दो। उस पर मुकदमा हम बाद में चलाएंगे।' तबसे सारी दुनिया के कम्युनिस्टों ने इस आसान पर घातक तकनीक का जमकर उपयोग किया है। अपने अंधविश्वास, संगठन बल और दुनिया को बदल डालने के रोमाटिक उत्साह से उनमें ऐसा नशा रहा है कि प्राय: किसी पर प्रमाणित दोषी का बिल्ला चिपकाने और हर तरह की गालियां देने के बाद वे मुकदमा चलाने की जरूरत भी नहीं महसूस करते! इसी मानसिकता से लेनिन-स्तालिन-माओवादी सत्ताओं ने दुनिया भर में अब तक दस करोड़ से अधिक निर्दोष लोगों की हत्याएं कीं। भारत के माओवादी उनसे भिन्न नहीं रहे हैं। जिस हद तक उनका प्रभाव क्षेत्र बना है, वहां वे भी उसी प्रकार निर्मम हत्याएं करते रहे हैं। अरुंधती ने भी नोट किया है कि नक्सलियों ने गलती से निर्दोषों की भी हत्याएं की हैं। किंतु ध्यान दें, यहां निर्दोष का मतलब माओवादी-लेनिनवादी समझ से निर्दोष। न कि हमारी-आपकी अथवा भारतीय संविधान या कानून की दृष्टि से। दूसरे शब्दों में, जिसे माओवादियों और उनके अरुंधती जैसे अंध-समर्थकों ने 'दोषी' बता दिया, उसे तरह-तरह की यंत्रणा देकर मार डालना बिलकुल सही।

अरुंधती जैसे बुद्धिजीवी माओवादी, लेनिनवादी इतिहास से पूरी तरह अनभिज्ञ नहीं हैं। किंतु भारत, विशेषकर इसके हिंदू तत्व से उनकी घृणा मनोरोग की हद तक जा पहुंची है। उन्हें इस 'हिंदू स्टेट' को खत्म करना प्रधान कर्तव्य प्रतीत होता है। अरुंधती के पूरे लेख में हर तरह की भारत-विरोधी देशी-विदेशी शक्तियों के प्रति सकारात्मक भाव मौजूद है। कुल मिलाकर माओवादी अभियान के सिद्धात और व्यवहार के बारे में अरुंधती ने ऐसी मनोहारी तस्वीर खींची है, जो स्वयं माओवादी सिद्धातकारों के लेखन और दस्तावेजों में भी नहीं मिल सकती। हावर्ड फास्ट ने दूर से कम्युनिस्ट आदोलन को समर्थन देने वाले सुविधाभोगी बौद्धिकों की जड़ता को सही समझा था। यद्यपि आज के भारतीय संदर्भ में उसे एक हिंदू विरोधी अंतरराष्ट्रीय मोर्चेबंदी की अभिव्यक्ति के रूप में भी लेना चाहिए। अरुंधती का लेख दोनों ही बातों की पुष्टि करता है।

[एस. शंकर: लेखक स्वतंत्र टिप्पणीकार हैं]

Two suspected Maoists arrested in Uttar Pradesh

Lucknow, May 11 (IANS) Two suspected Maoists have been arrested in Uttar Pradesh’s Ballia district, an official said Tuesday.
“Kishun Rajbhar and Rajju were nabbed Tuesday from Dubahar town. The two are believed to be involved in Maoist activities in various districts of the state including Sonbhadra, Mirzapur and Chandauli,” senior sub-inspector Ravindra Singh told reporters in Ballia, some 350 km from Lucknow.

“Several country-made pistols, live cartridges and police uniforms have been recovered from their possession,” he added.

Police are interrogating the two to gather information about the movement of Maoists in the state.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Hard Lesson of Chintalnar

May 10, 2010

Fighting insurgencies can be messy and slow. But the fact that even after six decades of terrain-wide counter-insurgency experience, the Indian state is floundering in its efforts to contain naxal violence seems to be a bit paradoxical. It is not that the conceptual nuances of tackling internal unrest and upheavals are new, but it is the many structural and systemic deficiencies which inhibit the adaptation of counterinsurgency practices that are a cause of concern. This is not to suggest that the use of force is a panacea for tackling insurgencies and rebellions; but what is important is that the force needs to be located in the overall socio-political context – a reality which simply cannot be over looked. More importantly, the containment of naxal violence is contingent upon a supportive local populace and the adoption of tactically innovative and people-centric operations. All these seem to be eluding the state at this juncture.

The Chintalnar tragedy demonstrates the inability of the security agencies to contain naxal violence. Seventy-six CRPF personnel including their deputy commandant were ambushed by some three hundred naxals in Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh while the party was returning from a three day long area domination patrol. Several hundred police and paramilitary personnel have been killed on account of poor leadership and inadequate training. Most worrisome have been the fatalities: 920 in 2008, 837 in 2007, 950 in 2006, 900 in 2005, 653 in 2004, 731 in 2003, and 896 in 2002. The recovery of crude and sophisticated weapons such as SLRs, LMGs, AKs, INSAS rifles and rocket launchers; some two hundred weapon snatching incidents and on an average hundred landmine blasts each year; the blowing up of mine protected vehicles at Dantewada in September 2005 and Malkangiri in July 2008; and synchronized naxal attacks targeting the government officials and assets cannot be disregarded.1

The hard lesson of Chintalnar is that the central paramilitaries and state police forces have simply failed to absorb the well established counterinsurgency concepts and practices. Even when attempts have been made to infuse organisational competence, the efforts to acquire required skills have been half hearted and marginal. The fact that a well organised paramilitary sub-unit, and in this case Alpha Company of the 62nd CRPF Battalion, which should ideally have been strung over a few hundred metres whilst reeling back to the company operating base is ambushed, and literally massacred without giving back a fight, raises some serious questions of training and adherence to basic tenets of field craft.

A number of issues assume significance here. They pertain to the repeated failure of the police and paramilitary forces to employ force, their sheer inability to innovate at the tactical level, the lack of vigour at junior levels of command, and the organisational ineptness that prevent learning from past mistakes. A brief discussion on each of these issues may be relevant.

  • Firstly, Chintalnar saw a company level counter insurgent action. Paramilitary companies usually comprise three to four platoons, and are equipped with adequate number of light automatics and support weapons, to undertake independent tactical actions. A company is therefore designed to demonstrate sufficient staying power to fight tactical level battles. The CRPF company at Chitnalnar was a sizeable force and capable of engaging the largely untrained and poorly equipped naxals. The fact that this sub-unit simply crumbled, and failed to beat back the poorly trained and equipped naxals, a tactical situation simply unheard of in counterinsurgency operations, makes the Chintalnar incident a serious study in the failure of frontline leadership and counterinsurgency drills.
  • Secondly, festering insurgencies are fought with ideas as much as they are with men and weapons. Tactical innovation is the key to successful counterinsurgency operations; and gallant action only follows. In that sense, mounting a full company-level operation for an area domination patrol, like the one at Chintalnar was simply unwarranted. And if at all, a large scale operation was unavoidable, the sensible way would have been to trickle down to the area of interest, and fall back in small teams on completion of the mission. A full company marching back in a huddle is tactically sacrilegious, especially when several other ways of planning the operation was possible. Counterinsurgency operations are all about mounting smart and skilful operations. Here the organisational leadership would have to play a key role in creating an environment conducive for innovation. But if the senior police leadership prides itself in `theorising` and `directing` operations from the rear, then the Chintalnar massacre comes as no surprise.
  • Thirdly, it is the junior leadership alone that can inject vigour into operations but that is only possible if they know that their commanders have roughed it out in their time. Unfortunately, such operational backgrounds are missing amongst the senior police leadership. Parachuting from the top and proffering advice to the cadre based rank and file does not work nor does it ensure operational performance. Several organisations like the NSG, the BSF, the ITBP and the CRPF have been victims of this dispensation. Recent incidents clearly indicate that the junior leadership is not motivated, and the senior commanders are bereft of ideas to tackle the naxal problem. The Andhra Pradesh Greyhounds and the special task forces of some other states are the few exceptions to the rule. It is high time that the leadership, both in the state police and the paramilitary forces, learn to build organisational camaraderie through personal example.
  • Fourthly, the organisational process of identifying gaps in performance is important, and has to be an ongoing exercise. These lessons may have to be teased out from the relatively junior officers who are engaged in actual combat. However, when the senior leadership has rarely `tented or footed` out, it could be difficult to inspire cutting edge levels of command. In the aftermath of the Chintalnar incident, the police brass simply did not even show up in time to salvage the situation. Instead one saw a young police officer from the district, who should have actually been leading the pursuit operations, presenting details of the incident to the gathered media. The time to recount naxal characteristics from safe environs of the headquarters has ended. Instead these young police officers need to gear up to lead from the front. Moreover let not the `crisis of governance` become a key concern for the police, as is often lamented by counter terrorism experts from the police community. It would be far more useful to address the `crisis of operational failure` and 'ineffective police action'.
  • And finally, counterinsurgency skills will have to be honed in sweat and blood, and especially across the rank and file, rather than by simply relying on skills gained through a third agency or by way of short duration training capsules. The debate about the responsibility and accountability for pre-induction training that was sparked off by the Chintalnar incident indicates the organisational callousness endemic in the paramilitary and the police forces. It needs to be acknowledged that training is a command function worldwide, and the senior police officers need to accept the blame for lack of it. Their inability to acquire these skills simply cannot be attributed to other factors.

The paramilitaries and the police forces have suffered a slew of setbacks in recent months, but the one at Chintalnar clearly stands out in terms of the scale of fatalities. In the state of Chattisgarh alone, the paramilitaries and police forces combined have suffered several hundred casualties. These operational failures cannot be ignored lest valuable lives continue to be lost. From a purely corrective perspective, the police are simply not investing enough in their frontline leadership and training to tackle the situation they face. It is time that the police leadership addressed the mandate given to them in terms of the broad governmental approach, the framework for counter naxal operations and optimal utilisation of additional resources to undertake meaningful action. These need to be seen at three levels.

  • Firstly, the paramilitary and police forces need to be reconfigured to meet the complex internal security challenges. The paramilitary forces in particular need to recruit, organise, equip, train and prepare themselves to undertake substantive counterinsurgency operations in the future. The new organisational constructs will have to focus on the creation of task specific and tailor-made units endowed with the skill sets required to tackle the naxal cadres. These units will also have to be logistically enabled to undertake and sustain prolonged counterinsurgency operations. The recent proposal to bifurcate the new paramilitary raisings into anti-naxal and law and order roles is perhaps a step in the right direction.
  • Secondly, the proposed infusion of experienced leadership and rank and file from the defence services could be a useful step. Several recommendations to this effect have been made in the past, and requisite modalities could be worked out to recruit servicemen post superannuation. But with a caveat that the recruitment of ex-servicemen cadres is balanced across the rank and file, and includes senior, middle and junior level officers as well, in order to maximise the value of their operational expertise. Lack of balance in injecting this expertise may de-generate the recruited cadres into the existing paramilitary sub-cultures, thus negating the very purpose of this exercise. At yet another level, a duration and task specific secondment of serving military officers to the naxal affected states, the police forces and paramilitaries in advisory capacities could also be considered.
  • Thirdly, the paramilitaries and the state police forces need to seek enhanced opportunities to train with the armed forces. The current engagement could be significantly expanded in content and scope to prepare them for future challenges. Having undertaken only static internal security duties in the other strife-torn states, the paramilitaries need to shed their `garrison` mindsets if they have to operate effectively in the naxal affected areas. They have essentially undertaken static duties in urban and semi-urban areas till date, and lack the expertise to operate in difficult terrain. Officer and junior level training, and acquisition of specialised combat skills, could become an important component of this exchange.

It is rightly argued that internal upheavals and rebellions are extraordinary security challenges that require a nuanced governmental approach, and one which justifiably addresses the deprivations and tribulations of the affected populace. The central government has done well in recent months to focus attention on the grave challenges that naxalism poses to the integrity and well being of the country. State leaders too, barring a few, have also articulated their strong resolve to contain the naxal threat. The bottom line is that the growing naxal unrest cannot be allowed to traumatise the country. The police leadership needs to rise and act swiftly, imaginatively and decisively.

  1. 1.The data has been sourced from the compilations made by Dr. P. V. Ramana, Research Fellow, IDSA.

Indian Navy evacuates anti-Maoist operation injured from Vizag District

From ANI

Visakhapatnam, May 11 : Responding with alacrity, the Indian Navy evacuated four tribals and two policemen, who were injured in an anti-Maoist operation in Visakhapatnam.

They were injured in crossfire during a combing operation in the forests of RV Nagar, 95 kilometers from the Visakhapatnam District headquarters.

The injured were brought to the city and are undergoing treatment at a private hospital.We can only hope that all of them survive," said Soumya Mishra, Deputy Inspector General of Police.

The Maoists, described by Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh as the country's biggest internal security threat, started their armed struggle in Naxalbari town of West Bengal in 1967.

Over the past four decades, they have expanded their support among farmers by tapping into resentment at the government's pro-industry push.

The Maoists claim they are crusading for the poor, marginal farmers, and landless labourers.

They have spread into the rural pockets of 20 of India's 28 states.

Tension in Narayanpatna as security forces launch combing ops

By K.Sudhakar Patnaik

On Saturday and Sunday the Andhra Pradesh Gray Hounds and Orissa SOG Jawan's jointly intensified their combing operations and there was an exchange of fire in between the suspected Maoist and the security forces.

TENSION PREVAILED during the two days (Saturday and Sunday) combing operation launched by security forces to curb the Naxal movement under Narayanpatna block in Koraput district of Orissa. It also badly affected normal life.
The earlier proposed Tribal women's rally under the banner Biplabi Adivasi Mahila Sangathan on Monday, had to be cancelled. The main object of organizing the rally was calling for democratic methods and presenting a charter of demands which includes suspension of operation "Green Hunt", release of tribal and tribal leaders even including the children confined in Koraput jail, restoration of the tribal's paternal land in the name of the tribal's in Orissa.
It must be mentioned that the land belonging to tribals which is about two thousand acres seized from the landlords to be recorded in the names of the tribal's is still in limbo, the demands also include prevention of sale and manufacturing of liquor in tribal populated district of Orissa, withdrawal all false cases initiated against the tribal's and the presence of district collector at Narayanpatna block headquarters once in a week to solve their burning problems.

The main object of the other administration was only to disturb the rally. On Saturday and Sunday the Andhra Pradesh Gray Hounds and Orissa SOG Jawan's jointly intensified their combing operations and there was an exchange of fire in between the suspected Maoist and the security force at Gumandi and Samna forest area.
The two days of continuous fire exchange, suspected to have taken a few lives which was confirmed by the Chief Minister of Orissa. The sources close to the police officials confirmed that as many as twenty six persons sustained injuries.
According to the senior police officer "signs of heavy bleeding and dragging of bodies at the spot of encounter hints at causalities and injuries" however the police have not recovered even a single dead body.
So they are not in a position to confirm the number of causalities. Most of the tribal's left their villages and have taken shelter inside the forest out of fear. Today, once again heavy armed constabulary rushed to Narayanpatna and conducted raids at Narayanpatna in search of the dead. However whatever the case may be, the fate of the tribal's in Koraput has not changed even after 60 plus years of independence.

The Hard Lesson of Chintalnar

May 10, 2010

Fighting insurgencies can be messy and slow. But the fact that even after six decades of terrain-wide counter-insurgency experience, the Indian state is floundering in its efforts to contain naxal violence seems to be a bit paradoxical. It is not that the conceptual nuances of tackling internal unrest and upheavals are new, but it is the many structural and systemic deficiencies which inhibit the adaptation of counterinsurgency practices that are a cause of concern. This is not to suggest that the use of force is a panacea for tackling insurgencies and rebellions; but what is important is that the force needs to be located in the overall socio-political context – a reality which simply cannot be over looked. More importantly, the containment of naxal violence is contingent upon a supportive local populace and the adoption of tactically innovative and people-centric operations. All these seem to be eluding the state at this juncture.

The Chintalnar tragedy demonstrates the inability of the security agencies to contain naxal violence. Seventy-six CRPF personnel including their deputy commandant were ambushed by some three hundred naxals in Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh while the party was returning from a three day long area domination patrol. Several hundred police and paramilitary personnel have been killed on account of poor leadership and inadequate training. Most worrisome have been the fatalities: 920 in 2008, 837 in 2007, 950 in 2006, 900 in 2005, 653 in 2004, 731 in 2003, and 896 in 2002. The recovery of crude and sophisticated weapons such as SLRs, LMGs, AKs, INSAS rifles and rocket launchers; some two hundred weapon snatching incidents and on an average hundred landmine blasts each year; the blowing up of mine protected vehicles at Dantewada in September 2005 and Malkangiri in July 2008; and synchronized naxal attacks targeting the government officials and assets cannot be disregarded.1

The hard lesson of Chintalnar is that the central paramilitaries and state police forces have simply failed to absorb the well established counterinsurgency concepts and practices. Even when attempts have been made to infuse organisational competence, the efforts to acquire required skills have been half hearted and marginal. The fact that a well organised paramilitary sub-unit, and in this case Alpha Company of the 62nd CRPF Battalion, which should ideally have been strung over a few hundred metres whilst reeling back to the company operating base is ambushed, and literally massacred without giving back a fight, raises some serious questions of training and adherence to basic tenets of field craft.

A number of issues assume significance here. They pertain to the repeated failure of the police and paramilitary forces to employ force, their sheer inability to innovate at the tactical level, the lack of vigour at junior levels of command, and the organisational ineptness that prevent learning from past mistakes. A brief discussion on each of these issues may be relevant.

  • Firstly, Chintalnar saw a company level counter insurgent action. Paramilitary companies usually comprise three to four platoons, and are equipped with adequate number of light automatics and support weapons, to undertake independent tactical actions. A company is therefore designed to demonstrate sufficient staying power to fight tactical level battles. The CRPF company at Chitnalnar was a sizeable force and capable of engaging the largely untrained and poorly equipped naxals. The fact that this sub-unit simply crumbled, and failed to beat back the poorly trained and equipped naxals, a tactical situation simply unheard of in counterinsurgency operations, makes the Chintalnar incident a serious study in the failure of frontline leadership and counterinsurgency drills.
  • Secondly, festering insurgencies are fought with ideas as much as they are with men and weapons. Tactical innovation is the key to successful counterinsurgency operations; and gallant action only follows. In that sense, mounting a full company-level operation for an area domination patrol, like the one at Chintalnar was simply unwarranted. And if at all, a large scale operation was unavoidable, the sensible way would have been to trickle down to the area of interest, and fall back in small teams on completion of the mission. A full company marching back in a huddle is tactically sacrilegious, especially when several other ways of planning the operation was possible. Counterinsurgency operations are all about mounting smart and skilful operations. Here the organisational leadership would have to play a key role in creating an environment conducive for innovation. But if the senior police leadership prides itself in `theorising` and `directing` operations from the rear, then the Chintalnar massacre comes as no surprise.
  • Thirdly, it is the junior leadership alone that can inject vigour into operations but that is only possible if they know that their commanders have roughed it out in their time. Unfortunately, such operational backgrounds are missing amongst the senior police leadership. Parachuting from the top and proffering advice to the cadre based rank and file does not work nor does it ensure operational performance. Several organisations like the NSG, the BSF, the ITBP and the CRPF have been victims of this dispensation. Recent incidents clearly indicate that the junior leadership is not motivated, and the senior commanders are bereft of ideas to tackle the naxal problem. The Andhra Pradesh Greyhounds and the special task forces of some other states are the few exceptions to the rule. It is high time that the leadership, both in the state police and the paramilitary forces, learn to build organisational camaraderie through personal example.
  • Fourthly, the organisational process of identifying gaps in performance is important, and has to be an ongoing exercise. These lessons may have to be teased out from the relatively junior officers who are engaged in actual combat. However, when the senior leadership has rarely `tented or footed` out, it could be difficult to inspire cutting edge levels of command. In the aftermath of the Chintalnar incident, the police brass simply did not even show up in time to salvage the situation. Instead one saw a young police officer from the district, who should have actually been leading the pursuit operations, presenting details of the incident to the gathered media. The time to recount naxal characteristics from safe environs of the headquarters has ended. Instead these young police officers need to gear up to lead from the front. Moreover let not the `crisis of governance` become a key concern for the police, as is often lamented by counter terrorism experts from the police community. It would be far more useful to address the `crisis of operational failure` and 'ineffective police action'.
  • And finally, counterinsurgency skills will have to be honed in sweat and blood, and especially across the rank and file, rather than by simply relying on skills gained through a third agency or by way of short duration training capsules. The debate about the responsibility and accountability for pre-induction training that was sparked off by the Chintalnar incident indicates the organisational callousness endemic in the paramilitary and the police forces. It needs to be acknowledged that training is a command function worldwide, and the senior police officers need to accept the blame for lack of it. Their inability to acquire these skills simply cannot be attributed to other factors.

The paramilitaries and the police forces have suffered a slew of setbacks in recent months, but the one at Chintalnar clearly stands out in terms of the scale of fatalities. In the state of Chattisgarh alone, the paramilitaries and police forces combined have suffered several hundred casualties. These operational failures cannot be ignored lest valuable lives continue to be lost. From a purely corrective perspective, the police are simply not investing enough in their frontline leadership and training to tackle the situation they face. It is time that the police leadership addressed the mandate given to them in terms of the broad governmental approach, the framework for counter naxal operations and optimal utilisation of additional resources to undertake meaningful action. These need to be seen at three levels.

  • Firstly, the paramilitary and police forces need to be reconfigured to meet the complex internal security challenges. The paramilitary forces in particular need to recruit, organise, equip, train and prepare themselves to undertake substantive counterinsurgency operations in the future. The new organisational constructs will have to focus on the creation of task specific and tailor-made units endowed with the skill sets required to tackle the naxal cadres. These units will also have to be logistically enabled to undertake and sustain prolonged counterinsurgency operations. The recent proposal to bifurcate the new paramilitary raisings into anti-naxal and law and order roles is perhaps a step in the right direction.
  • Secondly, the proposed infusion of experienced leadership and rank and file from the defence services could be a useful step. Several recommendations to this effect have been made in the past, and requisite modalities could be worked out to recruit servicemen post superannuation. But with a caveat that the recruitment of ex-servicemen cadres is balanced across the rank and file, and includes senior, middle and junior level officers as well, in order to maximise the value of their operational expertise. Lack of balance in injecting this expertise may de-generate the recruited cadres into the existing paramilitary sub-cultures, thus negating the very purpose of this exercise. At yet another level, a duration and task specific secondment of serving military officers to the naxal affected states, the police forces and paramilitaries in advisory capacities could also be considered.
  • Thirdly, the paramilitaries and the state police forces need to seek enhanced opportunities to train with the armed forces. The current engagement could be significantly expanded in content and scope to prepare them for future challenges. Having undertaken only static internal security duties in the other strife-torn states, the paramilitaries need to shed their `garrison` mindsets if they have to operate effectively in the naxal affected areas. They have essentially undertaken static duties in urban and semi-urban areas till date, and lack the expertise to operate in difficult terrain. Officer and junior level training, and acquisition of specialised combat skills, could become an important component of this exchange.

It is rightly argued that internal upheavals and rebellions are extraordinary security challenges that require a nuanced governmental approach, and one which justifiably addresses the deprivations and tribulations of the affected populace. The central government has done well in recent months to focus attention on the grave challenges that naxalism poses to the integrity and well being of the country. State leaders too, barring a few, have also articulated their strong resolve to contain the naxal threat. The bottom line is that the growing naxal unrest cannot be allowed to traumatise the country. The police leadership needs to rise and act swiftly, imaginatively and decisively.

  1. 1.The data has been sourced from the compilations made by Dr. P. V. Ramana, Research Fellow, IDSA.