Maoist guerrillas spend nearly Rs 140 crore annually to fight its bloody wars across eight states that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh calls the country’s single biggest internal security challenge, the first government-commissioned study on Maoist finances has estimated.
The estimate – thrown up after extensive analysis of Maoist documents and interrogation reports – is much lower than the earlier estimates of the Maoist extortion industry ranging from Rs 200 crore to Rs 2,000 crore.
"The Maoists have been collecting not less than Rs 140 crore annually from a variety of sources," said the draft report prepared for the government, counting the mining industry, public works and collection of tendu leaves as the biggest sources of their income.
This is the first time that an attempt has been made to closely study how the guerrillas fund their insurgency, spend the money and keep track of its expenditure.
"The Maoists have a meticulous system of accounting and are very good at book-keeping... (They) have also issued guidelines on financial discipline and how to avoid wasteful (non-proletarian) expenditure," said the document prepared for the government by a security think-tank.
A police officer said this could explain how the Maoists were able to run their war machinery on a shoe-string budget. It does need to spend a considerable amount on acquiring weapons because it is not easy to rob the police of its weapons any more.
A home ministry source said the Maoist attack on policemen in Bihar’s Aurangabad was an exception, not the rule. Maoists had looted 29 weapons including Insas and AK-47 rifles from the policemen after killing five police and private security guards on Wednesday evening.