Indian Decade

A Naxal Update

The govt’s plan to tackle the Naxalite insurgency leaves many questions unanswered.

Here’s an update for those who read my blog entry ‘Curious Ceasefire Offer’ on March 3 and are wondering what happened next.

Indian Home Secretary GK Pillai, the top civil servant in charge of internal security, went on record a few days ago to state that the Naxals, a nomenclature for Communist Party of India–Maoist (CPI-Maoist) guerillas, had plans to overthrow the Indian government by 2050. As the Maoists were in the process of preparing their army, the Indian government was committed to defeat such forces, Pillai said.

Despite the brave face put on by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Parliament on March 5, and his statement that his government had drawn up an integrated plan to tackle the Naxal problem in consultation with the states and was initiating action against the Maoists, there’s still a big question mark over the likely effectiveness of this response.

It is a known fact that the central paramilitary forces are pivotal in India’s war against Naxalism. Yet at the same time, inexplicably, the Indian government has reduced the allocation for the central paramilitary forces from Rs 30,900 crore in 2009-10 to Rs. 29,940 crore for the following fiscal year.

How can the government justify this when Singh himself has repeatedly identified the Naxal violence as the most important challenge being faced by India today? Note what union Home Minister Chidambaram said on this issue: that 223 Districts across 20 States in the country were already infected by Maoist activities, up from just 55 in 2003. Meanwhile, areas that ‘consistently witnessed’ violence supposedly covered just 400 police stations across 90 Districts in 13 States (there are 14,000 Police Stations across the country). The seven worst affected States in 2009, in terms of fatalities, were Chhattisgarh (345 killed), Jharkhand (217), West Bengal (159), Maharashtra (87), Orissa (81), Bihar (78), and Andhra Pradesh (28).