Red menace: Despite successes, taking out the Maoist core will require smart security-cum-development strategy 

What is the news? 

Recently, a meeting took place which was chaired by the Union home minister. This meeting highlighted the declining incidence of Maoist violence in the country. It marked an 82% decline in a decade. Also, over the same decade Maoist influence has shrunk from 96 to 53 districts, with ultras most active in just 25 districts that account for 85% of total violence.  

What are the areas where the core command structure of the Maoists still exists? 

Despite this apparent success, the core command structure of Maoists remains intact. 

Earlier this year, deadly Maoist attack on security forces in Chhattisgarh’s Bastar region killed at least 22 jawans. Elusive Maoist commanders like Madvi Hidma operate with small groups of committed fighters and draw on the support of remote tribal populations.

They are active in the deep forested areas of Bastar, Bijapur, Dantewada, Kanker, Kondagaon, Narayanpur and Sukma districts of Chhattisgarh and adjoining areas of Maharashtra and Odisha. 

What are the recommendations to overcome the Maoists violence? 

First, security operations alone aren’t enough to overcome this challenge. Development of remote affected areas along with targeting of Maoist money flow is key.  

Second, extremists thrive on extortion in areas rich with minerals and minor forest produce like bamboo and tendu leaves. The latter alone account for revenues estimated at Rs 20,000 crore annually. Gram panchayats auction these forest products and Maoists pose as middlemen to get better prices from contractors and take a cut. Thus, the trade in minor forest produce needs a closer look in Maoist-affected areas to break the contractor-Maoist nexus.  

Third, it is poverty that sustains Maoists. We need to work in these areas.

A sharp security-development strategy may end the Maoist menace. 

Source: This post is based on the article “Red menace: Despite successes, taking out the Maoist core will require smart security-cum-development strategy” published in TOI on 27th Sep 2021. 

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