Action against Left-wing extremism in its final leg

Left-Wing Extremists (LWE) have a long history of daring democracy through violence. This alleged “ideological war” not only stalled development in the affected areas but has also led to the burnt of lives of 16,652 security personnel and civilians in the furnace of violence in the last four decades. The irony is that the militants […]

Left-Wing Extremists (LWE) have a long history of daring democracy through violence. This alleged “ideological war” not only stalled development in the affected areas but has also led to the burnt of lives of 16,652 security personnel and civilians in the furnace of violence in the last four decades. The irony is that the militants have obstructed development works and prevented the construction of schools, hospitals and roads under the cover of fighting for water, forest and land. Consignments of foreign weapons have been delivered to these militants with the help of NGOs and some urban Naxalites who are growing with foreign financial assistance, who talk about the rights of tribals.

When the war is between Kauravas and Pandavas, Krishna can choose his camp very easily, but when the Kauravas stand in the guise of Pandavas on one side and Pandavas on the other, then Krishna can also be confused in choosing his side. Because tribals were and still are used as shields, the Government has to think many times before using force. For decades, the Congress Government’s sympathy for the Left, the resulting failure and exploitation has resulted in the success of misguiding the tribal community to the Left Wing Extremism for so many years.

This situation has undergone radical changes since 2014. Due to the tough and impactful decisions of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah, the impact of Left-Wing Extremism has been greatly limited and contained today and the fight has now reached the final leg. With the message of development and peace in self-reliant new Bharat, the Ministry of Home Affairs has formulated a three-pronged strategy to deal with Left-Wing Extremism:»Better strategy to rein in militants», «better Centre-state coordination» and «People’s participation through development».

Three-Pronged Strategy

This three-pronged strategy has achieved historic success in containing LWE in the last 10 years, which is reflected in the data. The lowest number of LWE violence in the last 35 years and the lowest number of deaths in 40 years were reported this year.  Violent incidents decreased by 76% compared to the high in 2010 and the number of civilians and security personnel killed decreased by 90% from the peak of 1005 in 2010 to 98 in 2022. The geographical spread of Left Wing Extremism has also steadily declined. Last year, incidents of violence were reported from 176 police stations in 45 districts alone, while in 2010, incidents of violence were reported in 465 police stations in 96 districts. The shrinking scope of LWE is also reflected in the fact that 72% of violence last year was reported from only 10 districts. At the police station level, 50% of the violence has been reported from only 30 police stations. For the first time after several decades, the number of civilian and security forces deaths was less than 100 in 2021.

The reach of good governance to the affected remote areas has created a bridge of trust in the government in the hearts of the people today. Left Wing Extremism has historically flourished in areas where poverty has taken roots. In his view, the groups affected by poverty had sowed the seeds of militancy by using the discontent of the people affected by poverty as manure and water. Due to the local support these groups received, the security institutions had to face many problems. But the situation changed after 2014. The Modi Government’s schemes for the welfare of the poor spread in these areas as well and people came to believe that the Government was their true benefactor, not the extremists! Under the leadership of PM Modi and under the guidance of HM Amit Shah, the Vikas Se Jan Bhagidari has ensured people’s participation in the efforts of security agencies by putting additional emphasis on schemes for poor welfare and development in the affected areas.

As part of the strategy to contain the militants, all efforts have been made to reduce the security vacuum and core area. Since 2019, 195 new camps have been opened, which have reduced the security vacuum to almost zero in the affected areas, barring a few areas. The strategy is showing positive results and has succeeded in completely eliminating the security vacuum by setting up its camps in Maoist strongholds like Barmasia and Chakarbanda in Bihar and Budha Pahar and Parasnath in Jharkhand. The result is that the LWEs have shrunk to a few regions. The leaders of the 14 Politburo and Central Committee members have been neutralised through intelligence-based operations, creating a major vacuum in the senior Maoist leadership.

The security forces surrounded the Naxalites by adopting an offensive strategy against the militants and under this policy, the 13-day joint operation using the newly established security camps in Lohardaga district of Jharkhand in February 2022 had many successes. In the direction of financial choking, a total of Rs 68.57 crore cash and assets have been seized by the States, ED and NIA. Setting up of separate verticals in NIA, special operations teams in central and state police forces with the help of expertise and knowledge sharing of Special Task Force has been used to weaken Left Wing Extremism with technical and tactical support using latest technology. Special funds have been provided for early construction of major night landing helipads for air support.

Under better Centre-State coordination, the Centre provided non-discriminatory assistance to the affected state governments for Central Armed Police Forces battalions, helicopters, training, funds for modernization of state police forces, equipment and weapons, intelligence, construction of fortified police stations etc. 2606 crore released to affected States in last 09 years for capacity building of States (about 124% increase in 9 years). The Special Forces and Special Intelligence Branches of the states have received projects worth Rs 1724 crore in the last five years. 536 Fortified Police Stations were constructed and 102 Fortified Police Stations are being built. Under the scheme of assistance to central agencies, Rs 106 crore was given for camp infrastructure and Rs 12.06 crore for upgradation of 6 hospitals.

Initiatives, Infra and Inroads

To improve road connectivity, 12100 km of roads have been sanctioned in the last 9 years and about 10350 km of roads have been constructed. Department of Posts opened 4903 new post offices with banking services in the last 9 years in the affected districts. Since April 2015, 955 new bank branches and 839 ATMs have been set up in 30 most affected districts. In order to speed up communication, 2343 mobile towers were installed at a cost of Rs 4080 crore in the first phase and 2542 mobile towers are being installed at a cost of Rs 2210 crore in the second phase. 214 Eklavya Schools have been sanctioned after 2014, out of which 163 Eklavya Schools have been sanctioned in the last 4 years. 11 Kendriya Vidyalayas and 6 Navodaya Vidyalayas have been opened.

Under the skill development scheme, 48 Industrial Training Institutes and 68 Skill Development Centres were approved at a cost of Rs 495 crore. Activities like health camps, drinking water, solar lights, distribution of medicines, skill development, farm equipment, seeds etc. are being conducted for the local population by the companies of Central Armed Para Military Forces deployed in the affected areas in which works worth Rs 140 crore have been done since May, 2014. Under the Tribal Youth Exchange programme, some 22, 000 youth have been taken for a tour of large and developed areas of the country with an expenditure of Rs 26.5 crore. The objective is to make these youth aware of technological/industrial advancement so as to wean them away from the impact of LWE.

The initiative to take the benefits of the government’s development schemes to the general public has been successful and this is feeling the pressure in the structure of the Naxalites. People’s self-confidence towards assimilation of the poor and tribals in society and socio-economic development is increasing. Opposition and difference of opinion have been accepted with full respect in the Indian Constitution. It would be unimaginable that in India, with a population of over 125 crore and more than 10,000 dialects and the richest in culture, it would be unimaginable for all views to agree with each other.