Police in Maoist-affected states do not even know the names of the rebels operating in their respective areas, a review of the Congress-led UPA government’s policy on left-wing extremism has revealed.
So much so that the police forces in the nine affected states largely remain restricted to their police stations and are scared of venturing out and taking on the Maoists.
The review by the Narendra Modi-led NDA government has apparently hastened the drafting of a new policy with special emphasis on giving more teeth to police to fight the Maoists.
The ministry of home affairs – tasked with undertaking a comprehensive review of how to deal with the threat from left-wing extremism (LWE) – has drafted a new policy which envisages a “police-up” approach, which entails motivating the state police forces to take the lead in operations.
Home minister Rajnath Singh has already indicated that the policy could be unveiled within a week.
An official involved with the review process told HT on condition of anonymity that “the new policy, while focusing on winning the hearts and minds of the tribals, will seek to empower the currently demoralised state police forces with more finances and better training facilities”.
The official said the government has come round to the view that the battle against Maoists cannot be won merely by sending in paramilitary forces “who are neither familiar with the terrain nor local dialects”.
According to the official, in some of the worst-affected districts like Bijapur and Sukma in Chhattisgarh and Gadcharoli in Maharashtra, the Maoists have a free run.
“The police do not even have names, forget about photographs of Maoists who operate in those areas,” the official added.
Another key element of the new policy focuses on surrenders.
The current Rs 1.5 lakh for mid-level and Rs 2.5 lakh for senior Maoist leaders is being reviewed.
The new anti-Maoist doctrine aims to set the ground rules: no talks with rebels unless they offer to lay down arms, a commitment from all affected states to and speedy clearance for security infrastructure that had been caught in red tape during the UPA.