Since its inception in November 2000, Jharkhand has become a "laboratory" for the Naxals - a place for experimenting with the idea of establishing a parallel system of governance. The Naxals have transformed 16 out of the 22 districts if the state into a 'guerrilla zone'. They include Garhwa, Palamau, Chatra, Hazaribagh, Giridih, Bokaro, Ranchi, Latehar, Lohardaga, Gumla, Simdega, East Singhbhum, West Singhbhum, Dhanbad, Seraikela-Kharsawan and Koderma. Of late, they have spread their atrocities to Dumka, Deogarh, Jamtara and Godda. Naxal violence in Jharkhand has claimed the lives of nearly 700 people so far, which includes over 200 policemen.
The Naxal movement in Jharkhand is not limited to armed operations; its manifestations are found in a parallel system of governance that includes elected village bodies, Jan Adalats and a peoples' police. Economic blockades and bandh calls are other examples revealing the helplessness of the state. The Naxals are running a parallel system in the villages of Jharkhand with their own system of taxation. The People's Guerrilla Army (PGA) - military wing of Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) - is entrusted with enforcing Naxal rule and implementing their terror plan.
Denial of justice is the most important reason that has resulted in the establishment of a parallel judiciary in Jharkhand. However, the primary difference between the Naxal kangaroo courts and the subordinate judiciary is the time and cost factor. While the common folk have no way of reaching the existing judicial system, the kangaroo courts reach the deprived sections of society. The Naxals are the sole arbiters of disputes related to jal (water), joru (wife), and zameen (land).
Recent developments in Jharkhand suggest a definite rejuvenation and re-consolidation of the Naxal cadres. Thirteen policemen were killed in a landmine blast, on 8 October in Baniadih, Chatra district, when a police party was raiding the house of a suspected Naxal. Earlier, on 11 September, 200 Naxals raided Bheluaghati in Giridih district, which left 17 villagers dead. Four persons from Turudi in Latehar district died on 31 August following an attack by Naxals belonging to the Jharkhand Sangharsh Jana Mukti Morcha. Similarly, on 5 July, Naxals beheaded three members of the Shanti Sena (peace squad), a group campaigning against the Naxals, in Khairpani village in Gumla District.
The CPI (Maoist) is now on a massive membership drive, especially from rural parts of Ranchi, West Singhbhum, Dhanbad, Palamau, and Garwah. Naxals in Jharkhand are also targeting children between 10 to 15 years age group to include them in their fold and use them to keep a watch on police movements. During a field visit to the Orissa-Jharkhand Border area, this writer spotted some armed child Naxalites seeking food in a village.
Why has this sudden escalation in Naxal violence occurred? It is a pity that despite so many causalities, the government seems confused about the status of CPI (Maoist). Earlier, there was a ban on the MCC and PWG, but the CPI (Maoist) that came into existence after the merger of the two parties has never been banned. The state government is using this ambiguity to hide its failures. At the same time, the Union Government's reluctance to formulate a uniform policy for handling Naxal violence across the country is largely responsible for the violence in Jharkhand. The ban imposed the neighbouring Chhatishgarh has led to considerable Naxal influx into Jharkhand, which is one way of explaining the sudden increase of Naxal activities in the state.
Operation Eagle, Operation X, Operation Shikhar, Operation Hill Top, and Operation Black Thunder are the offensive measures launched by the police from time to time, but none of them has provided the expected result. The problem lies somewhere else, people's faith in the government is lacking. It is not the number of Naxals, but the popular support to them that is the main challenge before the Jharkhand government. Lack of motivation in the state police and serious allegations of human rights violations by the CRPF personnel deployed in the Naxal infested areas are the grey areas where government needs to focus. The much talked about socio-economic programmes need a comprehensive review. Success of the government's military efforts depends on the evolution of a strategy where tribes are not the victims, but partners in the process of development.
The recent Sukma Naxal Attack in which 25 CRPF Jawans sacrificed their lives has broken the silent ceasefire that existed between the Naxalites and Paramilitary Forces.
The Sukma Maoist Attack of 24th April is the bloodiest since 2010 and raised some serious questions regarding the policy, perspective and the direction that Anti-Naxal operations have been given in the last two years by the Modi Government.
Was it an intelligence failure, policy change or any other loophole that caused the death of our Jawans is a question that is on the minds of every Indian. Here’ we shall try to analyse this questions while also looking at possible reactionary measures that are at hand for the Modi Government to react to it.
Union Home Ministry drafted a new counter-Naxal doctrine
About the attack
The attack took place on personnel of the 74th Battalion of the CRPF. At the time of the attack, the soldiers were guarding road workers in the Sukma district, which is located at a distance of 400km from Raipur, the capital of Chhattisgarh. Reports suggest that the Naxals fired from hilltops at the group of soldiers. The jawans tried to retaliate but didn’t succeed because the Naxals were using residents of Burkapal village as human shields.
What went wrong?
The question that arises is was it the lack of coordination between the locals of the area and the central police as well as the intelligence which led to this attack. Or did the union government’s claim that Maoists problem will end in half a decade instigate the attack.
The answer for the two questions lies in the in-depth analysis of the Sukma Naxal attack.
The answer to the first question can be seen in the non-cooperation by the villagers of the area, mainly Burkapal hamlet, who once shared a friendly relationship with the CRPF Jawans. Earlier, the villagers were acting as informers for CRPF’s anti-Naxal operations.
Integrated Action Plan Helped to Reduce Naxal Violence: IAP Data
Reports suggest that the villagers, who once acted as informers for the security forces, had distanced themselves from the forces after their village head Madhvi, who was acting as a helping hand for CRPF, was killed two months back by the Naxalites.
Answer of the second question lies in the massive attack where the rebels or the Maoists reacted with full capacity to prove their existence and strength.
Reports suggest that earlier, Home Minister Rajnath Singh in his statement in the Parliament informed that due to operations of the security forces around 135 Maoists were killed and about 700 were arrested in 2016. He also said that nearly 1200 rebels had surrendered to the forces.
In response to this, the Sukma attack was orchestrated by the Maoists putting their full strength on display. With this, they have sent a strong message to the government that they may be weaker than the forces but their resolve to fight against them will never die.
Operation Green Hunt to hunt Maoists
Maoists and the reason for their fight
The left-aligned Maoists or rebels who have been fighting against the union/state government for more than three decades say that they are fighting for the rights of tribal people as well as landless farmers. Their fight is against the mining in the mineral-rich region. In short, their fight is for a greater share of wealth as well as jobs for Adivasis - the indigenous people.
Currently, it is believed that Maoists are present in about 19 to 20 states of India and are most active in few states like Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Odisha and Bihar.
Maoist attacks and its timeline during the decade
• March 2017: Maoist rebels killed 11 paramilitary policemen in Chhattisgarh.
• May 2013: About 30 people, including tribal leader Mahendra Karma, were killed in Bastar region of Chhattisgarh.
• April 2010: At least 76 CRPF personnel killed in Dantewada region of Sukma
• May 2010: About 36 security personnel were killed near Dantewada
• June 2010: At least 27 soldiers killed in Narayanpur district
• March and July 2007: 55 security personnel killed in Bastar and other 23 policemen were killed in the region respectively
Chhattisgarh Government set up a Livelihood College in Dantewada
The ambush of the security personnel has drawn condemnation from different sections of the society including the politicians, public as well as different countries like Israel.
The Indian National Congress (INC) has termed the incident as an unfortunate event and has asked the union government led by Narendra Modi to initiate appropriate counter action.
Besides, Israel has condemned the Naxalite attack and emphasised on deepening cooperation with India to combat terrorism. While delivering a lecture on 'India-Israel- Enduring Partnership' at the Nehru Memorial Museum in New Delhi, Israeli envoy, Daniel Carmon said terrorism is one of the challenges India and Israel are facing. He added there is a new battlefield, an asymmetric warfare which the security forces have to face.
What can be done?
Instead of the actions or attempts by the security forces or talks at the political level, the government should come up with the real solution under which they (the underprivileged sections including Adivasis) are made a part of the development and provided jobs.