India at War:Rise of the Maoist Terror and UPA’s Failure to Contain it

Written by: Pathikrit
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Maoists attack
What is the value of the life of a CRPF jawan in India? Perhaps extremely low and that is why neither the country nor the Government react much if CRPF jawans get killed with impunity time and again by the Maoists. In April 2010, 75 Jawans of CRPF and 1 of the Chhattisgarh State Police were brutally massacred by the Maoists in Dantewada region of Chhattisgarh. Even when they were dead, their bodies were brutally mutilated by the Maoists to instil fear among others.

In July 2010, the Maoists derailed Gyaneshwari Express in West Bengal leading to death of 150 innocent people. In between there have been several such attacks in which hundreds of police personnel and innocent civilians have been killed of police personnel, and Maoists even going to the extent of opening up the stomachs of dead soldiers and planting IED explosives with timers inside and then stitching them up again so that when the bodies are carried back to hospital bombs would set off then, killing more people. The Maoist attack on CRPF jawans in Chhattisgarh last Tuesday in which 16 police personnel were killed was a repeat of what has become a routine. Had it been any other country, it would have collectively gone for a total war against the perpetrators of such heinous crimes but not India. Thus the attacks kept on happening and the hapless Indian kept on paying the price.

A Clueless Central Government

Each time, after a Maoist attack, the official statement from Government of India has been either that It is too early to comment or that warnings were given to the respective state about such attacks or that Law and Order is a state subject and that it is the responsibility of the concerned state government to take care of it. Even before investigations on one such attack gets over and blame games continue, news of another such attack creeps in. When no defence works, one can hear the Ministry of Home Affairs singing the same old song of not having any concrete intelligence inputs about the impending Maoist attack, as if the Maoists were supposed to courier or email their next destination of attack before committing the attack.

The Heinous Effort of the Left Liberal to Justify Maoist Terror -

The issue of relentless Maoist attacks and the brutal killing of hundreds state police and central police personnel is just one aspect of it. The other shocking aspect is the manner in which even today there are people in the intellectual echelon of the Indian society who still try to justify the actions of Maoists. There is no dearth of the likes of Arundhuti Roy and her ilk who would say that the Maoists are doing it for the rights of the hapless poor tribals (sic!!). Nothing is far from the reality than this.

The Reality of Maoists- Brutal and Ruthless

Till 2013, in just five years, more than 2500 civilians had been brutally killed by Maoists and on most occasions, the victims have been hapless tribals of India. In 2009, the Maoist had beheaded Inspector Francis Induwar, a tribal, in Jharkhand. The nation was shaken by the cry of the child of Francis Induwar who had vowed to grow up and become a police officer to take revenge on the Maoists for the death of his father. In July 2013, the Superintendent of Police of Pakur district in Bihar, Amarjeet Balihar, a tribal too, was killed along with his security personnel in an ambush by the Maoists. In between, there have been countless such incidents of killing of tribals. Incidentally, a sizeable proportion of police personnel fighting the Maoists are tribal and the Maoists have been more brutal on them.

There have been several instances where it became clear that Maoists have been forcing hapless tribal villagers to make their children join Maoist movement. On several occasions it became apparent how the Maoists have often used children and women as human shield when attacked by Police. And yet, as a nation, India prefers to remain under the illusion that Maoists are messiah for the poor.

Yet it is not just the police and the hapless tribals who have been at the receiving end. Attempts were made on the lives of former Chief Ministers of Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal namely, Chandra Babu Naidu and Buddhadeb Bhattacharya. In the recent past several top politicians of Congress were killed in an ambush in Chhattisgarh.

It is either India wake up to the enormity of the Maoist threat or get destroyed

The Maoist Objective- Keep the Tribal Poor and Hapless.

Maoists don't even spare the performing civil servants as well. On several occasions civil servants including IAS officer posted as District Magistrates have been abducted by Maoists. In the district of Sukma, the same place where 16 CRPF and State Police jawans were massacred on Tuesday, Maoist had abducted the collector of that district Alex Paul Menon in 2012. Reason? As a collector of the district Alex Paul Menon was working tirelessly for the tribals much to the anguish and frustration of the Maoists because a proactive administration working for the welfare of the tribal is a nightmare for the Maoists who know well that their existence depends on the impoverishment of the tribal. The Moment development would creep in, they would become redundant. In the same league they had abducted another collector from Orissa Vineel Krishna. And yet in spite of all this Indian state has failed to wake up and continues to consider the Maoist problem as a typical law and order problem which it is not.

Beneath the Disguise- A Well Funded Terror Machinery Out to Destroy India.

Even as the several over ground pro Maoist groups would try to justify the acts of the Maoists and attempt hard to portray them as a bunch of rag tag peasants, intelligence inputs have made it clear time and again that Maoists have an annual fund base which is nothing less than Rs 2000 crore which they collect every year through extortion, drug trafficking and all other kinds of nefarious activities. Further, the arrest of the Sadanala Ramakrishna in 2012 exposed the massive racket of procuring spare parts, materials and forged items that the Maoist run to manufacture firearms in their factories in different Maoist bastions. The Maoists are preparing for an all out war against the Indian state while the nation remains in perpetual denial of the same in its slumber. A sizeable chunk of the money spent on rural development especially in the Maoist hit areas end up in the coffers of the Maoists who will not allow any contractor to do any work without a percentage cut. Thereafter, systemic destruction of the constructed buildings be it schools, roads and hospitals continue. Thus, irony is that the Maoist use the funds meant for rural development and poverty alleviation to fight the state in the name of justice for poor while the tribal populace keep on paying a heavy price. It is this high level of exploitation that often resulted in tribals joining the police or helping the police to fight Maoists. The Konya Commandos of Chhattisgarh Police and their spearheading of the Anti-Maoist operations exemplify that. Likewise it was local tribal populace of Bengal, fed up with the exploitation of the Maoists, who helped the police kill the dreaded Maoist leader Kishenji.

Meanwhile, a clueless UPA Government Kept on Floundering

A few years back Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had termed the Maoists as the single biggest threat to the internal security of India. Over the last one decade, the Maoists have kept on gaining ground and strength even while UPA failed to bring in the much needed systemic reforms in Policing and create a unified approach to tackle the problem. On the part of the Central Government, more than one lakh central police personnel have been deployed in many of the Maoist hit states of India. Yet deployment of foot soldiers is one thing, to win the war against Maoists is quite another.

In certain respect some results have been satisfactory and some major Maoist leaders have either been neutralised or been arrested. Yet the systemic problems remain. Often it seems that the Central Home Ministry and its officials are literally clueless about how to combat the Maoists. While a military intervention may not happen anytime soon, fact of the matter remains that Indian Police is not capable in its present form to completely root out the menace. UPA consistently failed to chalk out a cohesive approach to root out the menace and kept on depending on piecemeal actions.

The Systemic Problems of India's Policing System-

No prize for guessing that the Indian policing system is today in a mess and suffer from a large number of deficits, the biggest of them being complete lack of decisive leadership. Be it the Central Police Forces or the State Police Forces, most the senior positions are held by IPS officers. And the biggest grievance of the police forces engaged in anti-Maoist operations continue to be the fact that their senior officers never lead from the front. It is extremely rare to find a senior IPS officer leading men from the front in the anti-Maoist operations, even though there were exceptions like K Vijay Kumar who as Director General of CRPF always was by the side of his jawans. But he was an exception.

On most occasions the CRPF and the state police forces are led by Sub-Inspectors or Inspectors during operations while at times one would find Assistant Commandants or Deputy Commandants of CRPF joining the operations, neither being an IPS. Sad part is that on most occasions the men on the ground are given directions by their senior officers who prefer to be at a safe distance. In fact it was reported in 2012 in an article published in The Telegraph, how a top level Indian Army officer had told the then Home Secretary "Get your IPS officers to command battalions and lead from the front instead of making them babus behind desks."

It was similarly reported by Indian Today in 2012 as to how a large number of top level posts in the Indian Central Police Forces have remained vacant because of the reluctance of IPS officers to get posted in difficult and challenging terrains. Is it possible for any police force to ever win a battle against perpetrators of crime if top leadership's commitment to lead from the front remains a questionable issue? One would simply have to ask the hapless CRPF or the state police jawan battling the Maoists in the deep forests to find out as to how many times he found top officers of his battalion by his side in the battlefield.

The management of the Central Police Forces in this country have been so lacklustre and so much devoid of any imagination or rather common sense, that over the last four years alone more than 16,000 CRPF jawans and including many officers quit the force. In the last few years more than 65,000 have quit jobs from all Central Police Forces, a further reflection of the sheer mismanagement of the Central Police Forces in India, especially at a time when it has been facing major internal security challenges from all fronts.

The Mismanagement of Central Police Forces

The shocking saga is the manner in which CRPF has been used as nothing less than a beast of burden with companies and battalions of CRPF being made to be on harsh anti-Maoist and counterinsurgency duties all the year round. In most cases they are made to be in J&K, then posted to Norhteast and then back to Maoist regions followed by J&K again. In between they would be taken to any part of the country wherever there is a law & order problem or would be deployed for election duty. For all practical purposes it is impossible for a normal human being to be on harsh duties for whole of the year. The Army makes it a point to have timely rotation of duties between field posting and peace time postings but not the Central Police Forces. The CRPF japans hardly get leave on time since being far away from their battalion headquarters (another major reflection of mismanagement), sanctioning of leave take lot of time. In addition to that, very high level of stress, lack of even the very basic amenities, worst kind of living conditions, shortage of basic necessities and a hopelessly ridiculous promotional scheme wherein most japans of CRPF remain at the constable rank for almost 20 years before getting the first promotion to the rank of a Head Constable, have all contributed to the creation of the mess, In 20 years of service , a jawan of the Indian Army becomes a Junior Commissioned Officer while a Central Police jawan can at best hope to become a Head Constable.

In addition to this, the constant face-off and lack of coordination between the Central and the State Police, constant movement of top level IPS officers who hold the top jobs for few months in the Central Police Forces and move on, all these have added to the woes of India's lacklustre effort to fight the biggest internal enemy , the Maoists. It has to be kept in mind that with several thousand armed cadre under its belt, a ruthless objective to uproot the Indian state and replace it with a communist regime, the Maoists in certain respect are no less menacing or threatening to India than many of her external and known enemies like Pakistan.

The Maoists are Determined- It is India which needs to get its Acts together

Things as they stand today, while the Indian state is a confused lot without any clear idea about how to tackle the increasing menace of Maoism, fact of the matter remains that the Maoists are extremely clear about what they want and their cadres, both underground and overground, both uniformed and the intellectual talking liberal sympathisers, are working overnight to destroy the idea of India. They have been extremely successful in exploiting the backwardness and poverty of people in some parts of the country and have constantly hoodwinked the nation into believing that their war is for justice which is far from the truth. Had their real intention been development of poor people, they would have made the areas under their domination, some of the most developed part of the country. On the contrary Maoist dominated areas continue to remain cut off from the rest of the country and any effort by the Governments, be it the centre or the state to develop those places and bring in basic amenities is violently resisted by the Maoists who know that their existence would be threatened if local populace become satisfied with development work. In addition to all this, Maoists have also been successful in exploiting the legal loopholes to the hilt and have often made sure that their arrested cadres are acquitted. The gap between the ground realities and the state machinery's illusion and sympathy for the Maoist cause is so grotesque that often the hapless japans facing the Maoist brutality in the harshest of terrains think himself to be alone in the battle with not even the people sympathetic to his effort, sacrifice and hardship. It is this sense of helplessness that leads to his quitting of the job.

Need of the Day- A Unified Command

Issues of Maoists having strong linkages with several foreign NGOs and their constant supply of fund and tacit support are also extremely alarming. Thus, even while the Maoists keep fishing in troubled waters and wait for the next strike, a clueless Indian Home Ministry should realise that not all battles can be won from air-conditioned offices of Delhi and state capitals. While deployment of Army may not be needed as of now, it is imperative for the Home Ministry to have a unified command and take lessons from some of the most successful anti-terror campaigns conducted by the Indian Army including the operations in J&K. States like Andhra Pradesh was extremely successful in tacking the Maoist issue and there is a need for other states like Jharkhand and Bihar to learn from the same, which, unfortunately is not happening. Sad part is that while Maoists are united in their resolve and approach, the Indian states and the Centre would first need to sort out their own issues if they at all want to win the war against Maoist terror. Even today the Maoist menace is being considered rather ridiculously as a law & order problem whereas it is nothing less than a ‘War on the Nation'. The Maoist problem today is too big for states to solve on their own unless there is a dedicated, ruthless and a calibrated long term plan on the part of the Central Government which would need the creation of a National Policy, which shockingly is still lacking.

When Will India Wake Up?

But before everything else, the nation as a whole would need to decide as to whether it wants to continue with this mayhem or solve it forever. It needs to decide if it wants to fight the war against Maoists or let them continue with the mayhem and brutal killings. It is either India fight the war against Maoists in the manner in which a war is supposed to be fought or it not fight it at all. But let us not fight half a war. A war against terror cannot be won with demotivated soldiers and self serving top officers. If India has to win the war against Maoists, it has to make sure that its foot soldiers are given their dues in terms of timely promotion, adequate compensation, timely leave, rotation of posting. Further, they need to be led from the front by the top officers. The legacy of deputation of IPS officers in the Central Police Forces need to be replaced by more avenues for the officers of the Central Police Forces who should be restructured into an organised cadre.

It is also imperative for the nation as a whole to come out of the illusion that Maoists are a good lot. Today they have been reduced to nothing less than an organised crime syndicate or a terror group which is brutal, which is exploitative and which has a dangerous agenda. Most of their top leaders are filthy rich and dream of ruling India one day after brutal suppression and devastation of the Indian state that they want to bring. And the hapless tribal is their cannon fodder for all this. It is time the Indian state wakes up before it is too late. India has been extremely successful in quelling terrorism in J&K, Punjab and in Northeast . There is no reason why it cannot root out the Maoist menace.

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