They have been lying low for a while. But when the Maoists struck again, it was with venomous fury, killing 14 CRPF personnel and injuring more than 15 at Sukma in Chhattisgarh. This shows that the Maoist threat is clear and present. It was only the other day that Chhattisgarh chief minister Raman Singh had said that the Maoists ‘would soon be finished’.
Monday’s attack was the second ambush in the area in the past 10 days and contrary to the government’s view the insurgents seem to be growing in confidence. In the last two years more than 70 people have been killed in Maoist ambushes, including the May 2013 attack in Bastar that killed 25 state Congress leaders.
This attack comes at a time when there are reports that the Intelligence Bureau and the CRPF are at loggerheads over a botched-up operation to nab a top Maoist leader in early November.
Clearly, there seems to be a lack of communication among various government departments and the attack in Sukma, which shares its border with Odisha and Telangana, shows that when it comes to inter-state co-operation there are far too many loopholes.
Incidentally, on Friday, the Raman Singh-led BJP government will be completing 11 years in power in the state. The BJP came to power at the Centre and many states promising development and ‘achhe din’, but there are still development lacunae in the state that are exploited by the Maoists.
According to the ‘India Human Development Report 2011’, by the Planning Commission, Chhattisgarh’s Human Development Index was 0.278, which was the lowest in India and below the national average of 0.467. According to the Tendulkar Committee Report 2009, almost 70% of the state’s population is poor. It is this deprivation and neglect by the state that the Maoists thrive on.
The Sukma attack yet again proves that the Maoists are India’s ‘biggest internal security threat’ but to rely heavily on force to ‘smoke them out’ is not the best solution. There is a need for a policy mix that entails a demonstrable improvement in state capacity aligned with a vigorous push for inclusive development in Maoist-affected areas.