At a review meeting Monday of Chief Ministers and Police Chiefs of 10 Left Wing Extremism-affected states in New Delhi, Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh called for the use of drones and the choking of financial resources of the left-wing extremist groups as strategies to counter Maoist violence.
The Union Home Ministry had called the meeting to review on going developments and to devise new ways to tackle the armed rebels, two weeks after 25 paramilitary troopers were killed by the Maoists in the deadliest attack at Sukma in Chhattisgarh in the last 7 years.
The 10 Maoist-affected states – Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Bihar, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh were represented at the meeting by its Chief Ministers or Home Secretaries.
According to a Home Ministry statement, the day-long meeting is also being attended by the secretaries of the Union ministries, besides chief secretaries and police chiefs of the 10 states. District magistrates and superintendents of police of 35 of the worst-hit districts, along with heads of paramilitary forces and intelligence agencies, were also present at the meeting. However, the Chief Ministers of West Bengal, Telengana, Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh were absentees.
Advocating more eyes in the sky to deal with Maoist violence, the Home Minister prescribed that mini-unmanned aerial vehicles (Drone) are extremely useful for anti-Maoist operations and should be procured and made available in more quantities. He said, “We must try that there must be at least 1 Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV)/Mini UAV with every battalion.”
He also called for a smart and aggressive strategy to successfully deal with the Maoists. Describing his SAMADHAN, the Minister said S stood for smart leadership, A for aggressive strategy, M for motivation and training, A for actionable intelligence, D for dashboard based KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) and KRAs (Key Result Areas), H for harnessing technology, A for action plan for each area and N for no access to financing.
In order to prevent the Maoists from using weapons looted from the security forces, the minister suggested that trackers must be added to them and biometrics used in smart gun triggers. “Trackers should also be embedded in shoes, bulletproof jackets etc,” he added.
He reiterated the importance of the States taking a leadership role in anti-Maoist operation with the support of central forces.
“Be it central forces or the district police, they will have to work under a coordinated strategy and plan. The most important thing is that the officers will have to lead from the front. Success in this regard cannot be achieved only by sitting in Delhi, Ranchi or Raipur,” he said in his address.
“I believe that there is a need to depute shadow intelligence officers to trace the prominent targets associated with left-wing extremism,” he added.
The government has ruled out an immediate deployment of army in anti-Maoist operations. Deployment of the army in anti-Maoist operations has been a contentious issue, often opposed by rights groups on grounds that army should not be used against country’s own people who have taken to violence due to lack of development in the hinterland.
According to Home Ministry officials, around 12,000 people, including 2700 security personnel, have lost their lives in the last 20 years. But the officials claimed that currently 90 per cent of Maoist activities were limited to 35 districts, though they have a hold over pockets in 68 districts in 10 states. There were no Maoist activities in West Bengal for the last three years.
But Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju told parliament “As per available reports, the estimated armed cadre strength of the Left Wing Extremist groups is around 8,500. However, their support base is in larger numbers.”
As Human Rights organisations claim, more than 100,000 troops – a third of them paramilitary forces – have been deployed to root out the five-decade old armed rebellion in Chhattisgarh only.