Revisiting Red Terror in India
On 26 Apr 2023, Naxals in Dantewada Chhattisgarh martyred 11 Jawans of Distt Reserve Guard (DRG) when they were returning from a casual search in the area. In this incident, their vehicle was blown off apparently by an Improvised Explosive Device (IED). The visuals of the site reveal a completely dilapidated/destroyed vehicle and the blast creating a deep crater. Obviously, this IED blast has been planned meticulously and ignited right at the moment when the vehicle came exactly over it. There are preliminary reports that the vehicle was stopped about 100 meters before the IED spot by the locals on some pretext. It is also learnt that people tried to grab the arms of the slain soldiers after the blast. It confirms the involvement of the locals This attack too was carried out when the security forces were returning after their search ops when the level of alertness could be lower, often with guards down. This also reminds of the 04 Apr 21 incident when a large contingent of security forces was ambushed while returning from a search.
Just a few days back, Home Minister Amit Shah had complimented the Anti-Naxal forces at the Karanpur camp of the 201st battalion of the ‘Commando Battalion for Resolute Action’ (CoBRA), of the CRPF Headquarters at Jagdalpur. He did mention that the Naxal violence was in its last phase and this 26 Apr incident may be a damper to his statement.
It was late on 04 Apr 21 that approx. 2,000 personnel of the Special Task Force (STF), District Reserve Guard (DRG), District Force of Chhattisgarh Police, the CRPF and its elite COBRA unit were retreating to their base camp in Tarrem around noon, when they came under surprise ambush by the Maoist near Tekuligudaun hills. They had earlier been carrying out joint operations since 02 April after receiving intelligence inputs about Maoists in Silger and Bodaguda area in border district of Sukma of Chhattisgarh. It is notable that Sukma & Dantewada have been the most Maoist infested areas of the State. The inputs specifically noted the presence of Hidma, the commander of the lethal Battalion 1 of the Maoists, in the area.
On that occasion of 2021, Security Forces were tasked to comb the area but they found nothing unusual…except that two villages… Tekuligudaun and Jihragaon…a very clear indication of impending ambush which the forces missed out. There was mayhem of shooting by the Maoist…apparently by LMG and rocket/grenade launchers too. There are some accounts that even the villagers were with the Maoists. It is intriguing though how 200-300 Maosists (apparently joined by some villagers) rounded up about 2000 strong trained security forces. Such strong and trained forces were virtually chased from place to place and attacked with impunity. The forces apparently could not retaliate like a unit. It seems the divided forces under attack ran away for their lives.
Question arises as to how the Naxals are able to hit security forces often do badly? Striking during the retreat is an effective means in combat to catch the opponent/adversary unsuspecting and off-guard esp when they found no Naxals during their search Ops. These type of strike have taken place many times past and it should have been an SOP to observe equal vigil while returning empty-handed. The second question arises if India can counter the Pakis/Chinese, why can’t we defeat the Naxals to their knees? What stops the successive govts from dealing that vital punch?
Maoists and Naxalites have been bleeding Indian security forces for long. Thanks to the Leftist movement that they have managed to sustain it…not only for years but decades. It all began for the reasons clash of the classes, justified to some extent for the prevailing inequalities. However, in the present times, all those causes have lost its meaning and the continued Maoist Extremism has only two objectives…bleed the Indian Govt through insurgency and rule the downtrodden under shadow of violence.
Naxalism/Maoism in India split into 40 odd splinter groups. After their two factions, Maoist Communist Centre of India and the People’s War Group merged to form CPI (Maoist) in 2004, they have apparently gathered some momentum in their disruptive activities duly supported by the enemies of India. In recent decades, they have defied the reconciliatory approach by the govt. There is no doubt that they are getting support from the other factions too, esp their other political wings and the foreign forces inimical to India, its progress. It is well known that the Maoist movement in India was supported by the Chinese but in recent years numbering more than a decade, there has been support from Pakistani ISI too.
The Left Wing Extremist funding is through nefarious means…by extortion, taxing the adjacent villages through fear & violence, ransom from the contractors working in the LWE areas and also from abroad. Earlier Paki Fake Indian Currencies and arms reached them through Nepal and Bangladesh. After the note ban in 2016, loads of gunny-bags filled with FICN were burnt/discarded. Their arm procurement was halted to large extent. They have also set-up arms manufacturing hubs and sell it to others to earn. They mostly loot the arms from the Indian police and security forces but of late, they have procured sophisticated Chinese, German and American arms too.
The present CPI (Maoist) has tried to spread their wings in the tribal and jungle area with their political wing support over the surface, mostly comprising of the politburos, the Urban Naxals or the Maoists. It is also understood that even the national political party CPI(M) has sympathy/support for the terrorists bleeding our security forces. They have been committing heinous crimes against the security forces in the past too. The major Maoist attacks on the security forces after 2009 have taken place largely in Sukma/Dantewada in Chhattisgarh; Koraput in Orisa; Begusarai, Palamu, Gaya & Aurangabad in Bihar and Gadchiroli in Maharashtra. Prior to 2009, many parts of Andhra and Maharashtra were also affected. Kerala too under Communist rule has Maoist cadres but has not resorted to any major attacks. There is no doubt the Indian govt in past did launched some concerted attacks on the Maoists too, inflicting some major casualties but their network has somehow remained.
Union govt statistics showed that 3,782 people were killed in 11,668 incidents of Maoist-led Left Wing Extremist (LWE) violence between January 2010 and March 2019 with Chhattisgarh topping the list. The govt reports claimed that in those period, there have been a significant reduction (26.7%) in the LWE violence incidences and 39.5% reduction in deaths. Of the dead and injured, the security forces have borne the brunt the most. This is highly unacceptable on any account. Naxalite violence has shrunk from 330 police stations of 76 districts of over 10 states in 2013, to 251 police stations in 60 districts spread across eight states in 2018 with just 30 districts accounting 89%. But why should such violence be permitted even in those 30 districts? It is surprising why Chhattisgarh state govt and the Home Minister of India have not launched a major counter-offensive against the recent Dantewada/Sukma Maoist attacks.
The activities of the Maoists in Chhattisgarh have apparently increased after the present Congress govt came to power in 2018. Year 2020 was a lull period possibly owing to the pandemic restrictions. It is a fact that after the April 2021 attack, there were some firm actions by the Union Home Ministry was the reason of a drop in the number of attacks in 2021-22. However, it will be grave mistake to assume that Naxal/Maoist violence is anywhere near end, as the Home Minister claimed. As long as their foot soldiers keep getting financial, administrative and political support from politicians and their parties, they will continue to thrive. It is another matter though that they are believed to be getting funding & weapon supplies from abroad (China, Pakistan).
Many national leaders in past have repeatedly indicated that the Maoists within India pose a greater threat than our enemies across borders. Naxal / Maoist movements of the past against the indifferent govts, against underdeveloped regions could have been for a cause but their recent acts against the workers undertaking infrastructure developments, indicate their purpose have changed. The development efforts by the govt should be more inclusive with the local people taking some benefit the least rather than outsiders (exploiting local resources). This was possibly the reason why “Op Green Hunt” did not succeed the way it should have. It is also a fact that now the insurgents are not working for the rights of the downtrodden but to assume power through the armed struggle against the Indian State which is unacceptable on any account. There could also be the assistance of anti-India forces in our neighbourhood (esp China & Pakistan).
There is no reason for the youths of today to be misled to join their ranks and files when so much of developmental/welfare activities are taking place for the poor and marginalized groups incl those in the Naxal-affected areas. Both Union & State Govt should and must convince them not to join Naxal/Maoist groups. On the other hand, the hardcore Naxals cannot be left to wage war against the state…killing the security forces and police…and get away with the crime…and in this context, Hidma, his associates and their overground leadership must be dealt with firmly with severe blows. Eliminating only the foot soldiers is not enough. Their urban coordinators, fund providers, arms suppliers as well as political heads too must be eliminated. It is also believed that they are being trained in making IEDs and are in possession of LMGs and RPGs. Where do these trainers, explosives and weapons come from? Are Islamic radicals/jihadists hands-in-gloves? How could the local law enforcement agencies be so clueless? Who are the influential people in the villages who render support to the Naxals…for whatever reasons, need to be taken to task. All these bandits are the enemy no. 1 of our citizens. World believes “Modi hai to Mumkin Hai” then why no concerted efforts have been initiated by the Union & State Govts, is beyond comprehension. It is time to root-out the Maoist threats from India.
Having mentioned the above, it must also be realised that the Naxals are our own citizens misguided by the decades-old Communist ideologies. Maoists & Naxals of the present times have to be either brought to the mainstream or neutralised. After dealing a heavy knock-out punch on those terrorists, they have to be brought to talk just like the insurgent groups in North-East were tackled with. It is possible that the Communist leadership may be reluctant in this effort and try to create hurdles but that is the only approach which can end the >50 yr old Naxalite/Maoist insurgency in India.