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Home ministry's latest worry: Maoist influx into North-East

By RS Chauhan
February 23, 2012 11:17 IST
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The Union home ministry has warned that the incursion of Communist Party of India-Marxist cadres into Assam and Arunachal Pradesh has "serious strategic implications".

The ministry's naxal management division has revealed the worry in its updated section on FAQs over Maoism. This follows recent reports about Maoist presence in Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.

Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi has in fact gone to the extent of claiming that Pakistan's external intelligence agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence, was helping Maoists in the state. "The Maoists are spreading in Assam. The ISI has also joined hands with them," Gogoi told journalists after a meeting with Home Minister P Chidambaram earlier this week.

Assam Director General of Police JN Choudhury has also supported his chief minister's claim.

"We have reports of Maoist activities from seven Upper Assam districts so far, including Golaghat, Sibsagar, Tinsukia, Lakhimpur and Dibrugarh," the DGP added.

The new worry apart, the home ministry says the states of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa and Bihar "are considered severely affected", while West Bengal and Maharashtra are considered "partially affected". Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh are considered "slightly affected". There has been "a major improvement" in Andhra Pradesh, which was considered severely affected earlier, while "some CPI-Maoist armed cadres exist in Karnataka".

The home ministry has also revealed that the CPI-Maoist has "close fraternal ties" with many North-East insurgent groups, especially the RPF/PLA of Manipur. Most of these outfits have linkages with external forces inimical to India. The CPI-Maoist has also frequently expressed its solidarity with the Jammu and Kashmir terrorist groups. These ties are part of their 'strategic united front' against the Indian State. The CPI-Maoist also has close links with Maoist organisations in Philippines, Turkey, etc, and the outfit is also a member of the "Coordination Committee of Maoist Parties and Organizations of South Asia, which includes Nepalese Maoists".

According to the home ministry figures, over 450 civilians have been killed every year in Maoist violence since 2007, with the year 2010 recording as many as 720 civilian deaths. Apart from state police forces,  74 battalions (each comprising on an average 1,000 men) of central armed police forces like the Central Reserve Police Force, Border Security Force and the Indo Tibetan Border Police are deployed in Maoist-affected areas or, in the home ministry's words, "LWE (left wing extremism)-affected states".

The ministry, in its updated information on its web site, has also tried to bust the myth of Operation Greenhunt, which had gained currency in the media's discourse during 2010-11. "The phrase 'Operation Greenhunt' does not exist in any record of the ministry of home affairs. In fact, there is no such operation at all, for the simple reason that the MHA does not plan or execute operations. Law and order being a state subject, all anti-naxal operations are planned by the state forces and are assisted by the central forces."

The phrase 'Operation Greenhunt', it seems, was used for a local operation in Bastar range in Chhattisgarh. The operation was aimed at busting naxal dens in Bastar forests, and functioned from green camouflage tents. But the Maoist propagandists and front organisations, in a masterstroke of a strategy, attributed it ad nauseam to the central government, conjuring up visions of hapless adivasis being targeted by the government machinery. It needs to be recognised that this propaganda was played out very skilfully, so much so that many in the mainstream media also believe there is a 'Operation Greenhunt' on, the ministry points out.

Meanwhile, the Union home ministry is coming up with a uniform and harmonised standard operating procedure on issues relating to human rights in anti-Maosit operations in consultation with LWE-affected states soon. A uniform surrender and rehabilitation policy for Maoists is also being worked out in consultation with the states and the reward money for Maoists who surrender with weapons is being increased. The process of consultation on these issues is set to start soon. A decision to have a uniform policy has been accepted by all LWE affected states, home ministry sources have said.

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