Aggressive edge to Delhi’s response

Adoption of ‘balanced approach’ signifies aggression

June 28, 2014 12:03 am | Updated November 17, 2021 04:21 am IST - NEW DELHI:

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s overtures in the last two days are a clear indication of how the new government will deal with the Maoist problem. On Friday, Mr. Singh met the top civil and police brass of 10 Maoist-hit States. Afterwards, he made it clear that there will be no talks with the Maoists but that a “balanced approach” will be adopted while dealing with them. Though he did not specify what that approach entailed, there are clear signs that the New Delhi’s policy on Maoists has acquired an aggressive edge.

A day earlier, the Home Minister held long deliberations with top officials of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) that is at the forefront of the fight against Maoists. Mr. Singh has reportedly urged the CRPF bosses to adopt a proactive approach while dealing with left-wing extremism. He has also spoken about raising special forces on the lines of the Grey Hounds in at least four affected States.

In the last few months, the Maoists are on the back foot — something they have accepted in their recent internal meetings. A latest note circulated by the rebels in Maharashtra’s Gadchiroli indicates that the Maoist leadership is worried about increase in police ambushes and the willingness of the security forces to delve deep into the Maoist safe zones. So, while raising of new special forces might be taken up, the Centre must also make concerted effort towards strengthening the local police networks in the Maoist-hit States and ensure there is coordination between these. Time and again it has been proven that in the absence of on-ground intelligence, central security forces such as the CRPF end up causing more damage than any significant victory against Maoists.

There is also a need to provide better training and facilities to the soldiers from the already existing forces such as the CRPF’s CoBRA. The jawans from such forces are under extreme stress and lack even basic facilities. In the absence of proper grievance redress mechanism, the morale of many jawans operating in hostile territory hits an all-time low, often resulting in fatalities. The Home Ministry is currently considering a proposal to bring the allowance of soldiers operating in Maoist-hit States on a par with those working in Kashmir and the Northeast. There are also indications that an act of bravery displayed while fighting with Maoists will be rewarded by gestures such as gallantry awards. There also, the Centre needs to be cautious. There have been several instances where mid-level officers, greedy of such awards, have lied and faked the circumstances of a particular encounter. Such cases must be properly scrutinised.

And, in the end, no action against Maoists will be successful or permanent unless the government simultaneously builds up civil administration to bring in development, which includes food, safe drinking water, healthcare, education and not only building roads.

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