Sunday, April 26, 2015

The attacks in Chhattisgarh have triggered a raging debate in security establishments on whether anti-Naxal offensives have been a massive failure. And whether a combined force of state police and Central paramilitary is in a position to tackle the insurgents, operating in 76 districts across 10 states.

Facts & Figure!!
  • The government data in the past decade (2005-2015) throws horrific figures about the state of India’s anti-Naxal operations: 4,510 people—1,753 jawans and 2,757 civilians—were killed by Naxalites. 
  • During the same period, however, security forces killed 2,193 Naxalites.  
  • This means that on an average, the Naxalites killed about two persons for every one they lost in the battlefield. 
  • They also snatched away 536 sophisticated weapons from the security forces.

Killing of Police informers
  • According to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), in the first three months of 2015, around 19 informers, responsible for gathering and disseminating human intelligence (HUMINT), were killed.
  • Between 2010 and 2014, the figure was 879. 

Reason for this worrisome scenario ?

A senior IPS officer in his book notes: 
  • “We are fighting the war on their (Naxalites) terms, not our terms.” 
  • Pointing out the reasons for anti-Naxal operations not producing any worthwhile results in spite of huge investments and heavy deployment, he says -->
  • “The tragedy is that vast resources have been placed at the disposal of those who are simply not fit to command—who do not have slightest idea of combat.”

Anti-Naxal operations deployment.

Deployment of forces has increased but effectiveness is not satisfactory !!!
  • The police performance can be judged by the areas that the forces recapture and continue dominating. 
  • But, if we see the statistics of the last four-five years, there is no change on the ground. 
  • Despite increase in the boots on the ground, the Maoist-dominated areas we are supposed to recapture remain elusive.
  • Naxalites have been on the back foot for the last six months to one year because of loss of their senior leaders and mass desertion of their cadres.

Violation of Standard Operating Procedures !!

Misconception about the setback to Naxalites as threat of attack on security forces has always been there !!!
  • Sometimes there is no attack but it is not because of security forces proactive measures. 
  • It is due to Maoists’ design. They keep changing the tactics which sometimes are misinterpreted by the forces. 
  • So the notion of sudden spurt in attacks is wrong. 
  • If no incidents are happening, it is not because of security force's heroism but because of the Naxalites’ tactical counter-offensive.

Incidents of turf war between the state police and Central  para forces. 
  • An SOP was prepared in 2005 on coordinated operation for Central and state police which states that the police will lead the operation while the Central paramilitary forces will assist them, but the role was reversed and now major operations are launched by the Central forces, and police personnel accompany the unit in jungle.
  • In 2008, Chhattisgarh Police filed an FIR against a CRPF jawan when a civilian got killed in a Naxalite encounter. This led to a massive showdown and the CRPF argued that even the state police inspector was part of the encounter team and how can he be spared? 

  • The Central government in the last many years has spent huge money towards Security Related Expenditure, Special Infrastructure Scheme, raising India Reserve (IR) Battalions and setting up of counter-insurgency and anti-terrorist training institutions in the affected states. 
  • The government disbursed Rs 303 crore in 2014-15 to make state policing more effective. In the last four years, it spent Rs 1,617 crore for creating special infrastructure for police and strengthening the police station. 
  • This is just the Central grant on training, fortification etc. If we take into account the money spent on ammunition as well as modernisation, the figure would be manifold. 
  • A conservative estimate on government spending, based on the killing of 63 Naxalites by the security forces and state police in 2014, leads us to the fact that each killing has cost the exchequer Rs 78-80 crore.

Issues faced by security forces !
  • The Central paramilitary personnel not only lose their lives to the blood-thirsty Naxalites, their deaths due to diseases in inhabitable jungles too is a matter of concern. 
  • Also, the CRPF is threatened by attrition. Around 16,523 personnel quit the force during 2009-2012.
  • On March 4, the MHA said the CRPF lost 323 jawans since 2009 in anti-Naxal operations while 978 lost their lives due to diseases. 
  • In fact, more CRPF jawans lost their lives to heart attacks (642 deaths) than killed in action.  
  • As many as 228 personnel in the last five years committed suicide while 108 died due to malaria. 

MHA attributed causes like 
  • personal enmity, 
  • mental illness, 
  • marital discord,
  • work-related stress to such a high number of men taking their own lives. 

What did the new Government do ?
  • The Centre decided to work on several aspects to make the force effective. 
  • Besides raising its own intelligence unit, the CRPF is also focusing on welfare of the jawans. 
  • There is plan to provide enough rest to those posted in hard areas before they are transferred again to the Naxal-hit areas. 
  • Earlier, the government had taken measures to implement a transparent, rational and fair leave policy. 
  • There will be more interaction between jawans and officers as well as reforms in the grievance redressal machinery.

According to MHA, Naxalites raise money through a variety of sources, including extortion from contractors, businessmen, industries, government servants etc. They are also involved in confiscation of properties of the rich land owners. 
The ministry says many cases of extortion are not reported for fear of violent reprisal from the ultras. 
The most comprehensive analysis was prepared by security forces in a secret note in August 2013, listing 14 sources for Maoist-funding, ranging from individuals to industries. 
The note said PWD works have been a successful method of gaining funds for Naxalites in red corridors, and they are also targeting educational institutions, liquor business, tendu leaf contractors, mines and government servants as well as politicians.  
The note said usually an over-ground member of the outfit or an NGO is deputed to collect the fixed extortion amount from these sources. 
It also said Maoists issued guidelines through ‘Our Financial Policy’, a written document for proper expenditure. It said they are collecting every year approximately Rs 140 crore from business houses. 
  • The amount to be collected each year is decided by the central committee of Maoists. 
  • Each level of ultras maintains a detailed statement of money collected. 
  • A consolidated expenditure is prepared by the commander and submitted to the higher committee at regular meetings. 
But are the sources drying up due to government’s two-pronged strategy of development and security operations? 
  • Maoist literatures seized by security forces suggest so. People’s March admitted that reform measures have been speeded up, remote tribal villages are now witnessing regular visit by government officials, roads are being built, houses being repaired and rations being granted to neutralise the Maoists propaganda.
  • Official data says 140 Naxalites surrendered in the last three months, with the maximum 70 in Andhra Pradesh followed by 38 in Chhattisgarh. 
  • Last year, 387 Naxalites laid down their arms in Chhattisgarh, followed by Andhra (130) and Odisha (94). The police in Jharkhand claimed to have arrested 230 Naxalites in 2014. 
  • A total of 656 Naxalites surrendered last year while 1,689 were arrested in the country. 

Surrender at best could be used as Psy-War against Naxalites, but forces cannot lower the guard by interpreting the numbers. 

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