Govt reviews LWE-hit districts to prepare action plan
The MHA has recently reviewed left-wing extremism (LWE)-affected districts across the country, officials said
New Delhi: The ministry of home affairs (MHA) has recently reviewed left-wing extremism (LWE)-affected districts across the country, including funds required by security forces, with an aim to prepare a long-term plan of action to reduce the influence and impact of Maoist insurgency, people familiar with the development said.
“Two meetings were held — on April 12 and 17 — under the chairmanship of additional secretary (LWE division) in the MHA,” an official said, requesting anonymity. “The meetings were attended by the nodal officers of Maoist-affected states, officials of Intelligence Bureau and central paramilitary forces under the Security Related Expenditure (SRE) scheme to review the LWE-affected districts.”
Issues such as movement of security forces inside forested areas, radicalisation and use of children by Maoists, number of districts and police stations affected by LWE, opening of security camps, etc. were discussed in the meetings, as the government is focusing on a decisive battle against the red ultras, the official added.
In last eight-nine years, officials said, MHA has adopted a three-dimensional strategy — controlling extremists, better coordination between the Centre and affected states, and development works — that has achieved major success in controlling LWE.
For instance, while 13,315 violent acts were recorded in LWE areas during the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) tenure between 2006 and 2014, the numbers came down by 50% to 6,552 between 2014 and 2022. Similarly, LWE-related deaths, which were recorded at 5,289 (in 2006-2014), have come down by 66% to 1,754 in eight years between 2014 and 2022, according to the MHA data.
On the other hand, the number of LWE militants who have surrendered has gone up from 2,428 during 2006-2014 to 5,816 during 2014-2022.
Currently, reports of LWE-related violence are limited to only 45 districts in nine states — Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha, Bihar, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Kerala — down from 96 districts across seven states in 2010.
A key change in the strategy has been security forces entering the core areas of the Maoists. The MHA data, accessed by HT, suggests that since 2019, security forces have opened 108 camps inside core LWE-affected areas. “Relocation of these camps is done from time to time after security assessment,” a second official said, also declining to be named.
Besides, four new joint task forces (JTF) have been established for special operations and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF)’s battalions have been re-deployed depending on the influence of Maoists.
Security forces have also changed their attack strategy in their fight against Maoists.
“Instead of applying security (defensive) policy against the militants, an attacking (offensive) policy has been implemented,” a third official said. “Innovative methods are being used to arrest Maoists.”
Meanwhile, investigation agencies such as the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) have taken concerted action into Maoists’ funding.
While various state police forces have seized properties worth ₹22 crores linked to Maoists, ED has attached their assets worth ₹3 crore and NIA ₹5 crore, as part of intensive surveillance operations, MHA data suggests.
NIA has also created a separate division to speed up the investigation related to left wing militants. This division has to date taken up 55 cases linked to the red ultras.
Officials said there is continuous information and knowledge sharing between the central and state police forces. Also, helicopters have been deputed for help and rescue during operations in the affected areas.
“Keeping politics aside, the Centre is providing the state governments armed police forces, helicopters, training, finance for the modernisation of the police, devices and arms, intelligence reports, and facilitating construction of fortified police stations,” the first official cited above said. “As of today, there are 250 fortified police stations in LWE areas.”
Bengaluru-based internal security expert Shreya Upadhyay said, “All the stakeholders including central forces, Centre and state governments as well as the locals need to work together for a decisive battle against the left-wing extremists. Focus should be on ensuring that Maoists are not successful in indoctrinating the children from the tribal areas.”