Contrary to the Maharashtra government’s recent claim that left-wing extremism is on the wane, the State faces a rejuvenated red cadre that has vowed to eliminate 37 senior police officers and informants in 2016.
The latest hit list has been issued by Naxals in response to the State’s lucrative surrender policy, which, the government claims, has taken off in a big way resulting in a substantial drop in violence.
But the latest data show that this claim could be exaggerated. Intelligence inputs have revealed that to execute the hit list, the extremists have brought in several units of Company-10 from Chhattisgarh, each with a strength of 30 men trained to kill with precision.
“This (the latest hit list) is a matter of serious concern for the State, even as inputs show new strategies are being adopted to attract youth with fresh vigour,” an intelligence note in the possession of The Hindu reads.
As part of the Naxal revival policy, documents recovered recently by Gadchiroli Police show that plans are afoot to win the surrendered cadre back to the Maoist fold or eliminate them.
The counter-strategy was launched by the CPI-Maoist’s Dandakaranya Special Zonal Committee (DKSZC) in villages around Gadchiroli where most of the surrendered cadre lives. Dandakaranya stretches over 92,000 sq km across five States — Chhattisgarh, Telangana, Maharashtra, Odisha, and Andhra Pradesh. — and is a significant holding area for Maoists.
“Left wing extremists adopted a similar strategy in 2009-2010 in Bastar and now, cornered by police action and a spate of surrenders, the outfit is desperate to retain its hold in the red bastion,” reads an intelligence report of the Anti-Naxal Operation Unit of Maharashtra Police.
The State government has claimed that thanks to its latest policy – a Rs 5 lakh cash reward and rehabilitation – as many as 51 extremists surrendered in 2015. Violence, too, has ebbed, the government claims. However, there is another side to the story.
In 2015, 18 tribal informants were killed, and 15 murders connected to red extremism were reported as against 14 the previous year, 66 policemen injured as opposed to 43 in 2014, 18 civilians were killed as opposed to six the previous year. Naxals also killed 10 police informants in 2015 as opposed to 8 in 2014. Data also show only two extremists were killed in 2015 as against 13 the previous year. Property worth Rs 1.76 crore was destroyed in 2015 as against Rs 1.49 cr the previous year. Two policemen were killed in 2015, while the number was 11 the previous year. This spate of violence and destruction took place despite the government making the Special Director General (Nagpur) accountable for protecting surrendered Maoists under the new surrender policy.
Senior officials told The Hindu that a minor drop in violence could be attributed to the joint operations carried out in 2015. Another internal note revealed that surrenders were on account of various factors in addition to the state policy, such as ‘health problems, love affairs, internal rifts, sexual exploitation,’ because of which ‘guns were dropped’. Before the new policy came into effect, 40 extremists had surrendered in 2014, and 48 in 2013, showing there has not been a substantial decrease in either violence or number of persons surrendering since the new policy was introduced in end-2014.
Maharashtra first launched a Naxal surrender policy on August 29, 2005, and has claimed that 502 extremists have given up arms in the last 10 years since then in violence-hit regions.
“The 2015 scenario indicates that the government’s new approach has ensured a retreat of Maoists and advancement of our forces. But we must move with caution,” a senior official said.