The Maoists red corridor from Dandakaranya to Nepal passes through three districts of the state. This is part of the Maoists greater design to capture areas geographically connected with Chattisgarh, Bihar and UP.
But UP region, mainly consisting of tribal dominated districts - Mirzapur, Sonebhadra and Chandauli, has not reported any Naxal violence during the last three years. This is largely because of area domination by the police.
However, there are still some hilly terrains in the three districts where Naxals continue to rule the roost. The forests of Nagwa, Chatara, Chopan and Kon are still safe havens for Maoists from Chhatisgarh, Bihar, MP and Jharkhand.
A senior IPS officer who had been DIG Mirzapur told HT “area domination had been possible just by sealing the borders with Bihar, Jharkhand and Chattisgarh”. He said “our strategy was not to allow them enter the state”. “We are no longer sitting duck in the region”, he said and added “point-to-point operational strategy had been chalked out to plug the loopholes in the anti-Naxal drive”. The problem, visibly appears to be under control, has however not been eliminated.
The Superintendent of Police (SP) Sonbhadra, Dr Pratinder Singh told HT “ the community policing has been very fruitful in weakening the networking of Naxals in the district. People are not very much afraid of Naxals. Community policing taking care of poor and tribals in rural areas would help a lot check the Naxalite menace”.
But proper intelligence gathering is still a major issue with the police. The former UP DGP VKB Nair alleged the Home department and DGP headquarters had been spending money earmarked for this purpose on “entertainment”. He said small portion of it was going to the districts.
In order to tackle the problem UP, on the pattern on Andhra Pradesh, has prepared a plan for fortified police stations in the districts. However chairman police housing corporation DK Sharma refused divulge the details of the proposed model.
Naxalism whose roots in the region date back to 1991, saw the biggest incident in Hinaut Ghat under Naugarh Police Station area of Chandauli district in November 2004, when Maoists triggered landmine blast blowing up a PAC vehicle and killing 18 PAC jawans. Before that the Naxalites had raided a PAC camp and loot large numbers of weapons and ammunition in Mirzapur in 2001.
During the last two years the security forces also gunned down hardcore Naxalites Kamlesh Choudhry and Shatrughan Kol.
While three hardcore Naxalite leaders- Munna Vishwakarma Lal Brat Kol and Ajit are still at large, last Sunday the police nabbed zonal commander of Chandauli, Ram Sajivan Kushwaha along with huge firearms and ammunition. It amply indicated that despite police pressure there is not let up in their movement.
While utter lack of developmental activities is being attributed to spread of menace over the years, the Mafiosi- Naxal connection had ensured that there was no paucity of funds to them. The Maoists had been equally beneficiaries of exploitation of natural resources from the forest and mines in the region. They are patronizing coal smugglers from Mirzapur for raising funds. The local police too are involved in smuggling racket. Recently the CBI had unearthed a massive coal smuggling racket in Mirzapur in which police were also involved.
Talking to HT a senior IAS said, “the corruption and tribals’ exploitation, including sexual abuse by the officers, had been major reason for locals drift towards Maoists”.
Time to time, Naxalites had made their presence felt in the area by resorting to violence. In 2003, the erstwhile king of Vijayagarh state of Sonbhdra, Padam Bhushan Saran Shah was shot dead. Before that, a station officer of Naugarh police station, OP Singh and a constable, Ved Prakash were killed in Sonbhadra in 2000. In December 2009 the Naxals beheaded a police informer Shiv Prakash, 28, in Sonebhadra after holding a panchayat at Chanani village under Kon police station.
(With input from Lucknow Bureau)