Groundswell of opposition to extremists in 25 to 30 villages on either side of the Kanchi river in Jharkhand
A quiet but firm initiative of the Union Home Ministry in some of the Naxalite-affected districts is showing positive signs of restoring development schemes.
Despite the Naxalite attacks targeting jawans of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) in Chhattisgarh and killings of the so-called “police informers'' in villages, the government is identifying pockets in the Naxal-violence hit States where villagers have been successful in resisting the influence of the extremists, favouring civic action to consolidate the developmental agenda.
Citing the example of Bundu area near Ranchi in Jharkhand, officials here said that there was groundswell of opposition to Naxals in about 25 to 30 villages on either side of the Kanchi river. The area was, till recently, considered to be the stronghold of Kundan Pahan, a Naxal leader who hails from there. Probably, the villagers' opposition was triggered by the alleged excesses and wanton killings committed by the Naxals. “Anybody who did not fall in line or was considered to be pro-administration or police informer, was dealt mercilessly by the Maoists,” reports received by the Home Ministry from Jharkhand said.
The district police began civic action programmes in Bundu which was carried forward by the CRPF camps, instilling some confidence in the villagers who held several meetings denouncing the Naxals and their activities. The last such meeting was held in Bundu on July 1 where villagers reportedly came out openly for development, and against Naxals. Predictably, a Naxal squad killed one of the villagers who had spoken at the meeting and left posters warning further retaliatory action against persons who opposed them.
However, the villagers, though a little guarded, continue to defy Naxals. With the help of local intelligence, the police was able to neutralise two leading members of the guerrilla squad of the Naxalites. Three police camps in the area are providing protection to the villagers and the police have pledged to continue with the operational offensive.
“Our effort is to consolidate the civic action and prevent Naxals from returning to this area. We are identifying more such pockets not only in Jharkhand but also in Chhattisgarh, Orissa and Maharashtra,” officials said.
Some of such areas are Kanker in Chhatttisgarh, Sarai Kela in Jharkhand, Sundergarh in Orissa, Narayanpatna in Koraput in Orissa.
Though intelligence reports have spoken about fresh recruitment of Naxal cadres and logistic links of Indian Naxalite groups with
Nepalese Maoists, the Government focus is on to make fully functional police stations, tehsils, development blocks, schools, primary health centre, and anganwadi centres which provide services at the ground level and also reflect the State presence and writ. Officials feel that core policing needs to be strengthened and areas of security, development, administration and public perception have to be dealt in a holistic manner.
At the July 14 meeting of the Chief Ministers of Naxalite-affected States with the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the Government is likely to take all the Chief Ministers on board and apprise them of the assessment of the high-level Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) and seek their suggestions on tackling the Left Wing Extremism.
Officials said that till May 31 this year, 266 civilians and 173 security personnel have been killed in naxal violence. In 2009-10, the Centre allocated and released funds to the tune of Rs. 578.61 crores in nine Naxal-affected States for modernisation of State police forces while the nation-wide figure for the police modernisation scheme in all States was Rs. 1230 crores during the same period.