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There is no unified theme behind the war on Naxalism launched by India's states. Little wonder they aren't achieving much
Special to Firstpost
Is the war against the Maoists proceeding according to plan? Or, is there a plan at all?
To find out, Firstpost commissioned THL Mediagrove to make contact with the Maoists and the government forces battling them in two of the eastern states—Bihar and Jharkhand—to get a clearer view from ground zero.
What is clear from their interactions—the first in recent months—is that the war may be meandering into a stalemate, thanks to uncoordinated actions by various state forces, and a more cohesive approach from the rebel forces. In Jharkhand, the drive to catch a key Maoist commander has got nowhere despite several attempts.
While the Maoists—also known as Naxals—seem to be preparing for a long-drawn war against the state, the state does not seem to be getting anywhere.
The Naxals plan has three prongs—try and show the people that they are the benefactors by dispensing medicine and food, enforce rudimentary justice, including Taliban-style kangaroo courts, and three, indoctrinate all its recruits—including women—with its ideology. The whole edifice is supported by extortion from businessmen and traders.
The government counter-move is uncoordinated, and lacking in rigour – as it is evident from the lack of success in cornering the rebels and gaining territory now under Naxal sway (See video of how the Jharkhand government has failed to capture its most wanted Naxal enemy despite many efforts).
As Ajai Sahni, Executive Director of the Institute of Conflict Management and the South Asia Terrorism Portal, points out, the only state to register some success in its war against Naxals is Andhra Pradesh.
The rest are not even talking in one voice. While Chhattisgarh is firm that the Naxals can only be defeated by force, it has not been able to project its forces effectively. In fact, the security forces in Chhattisgarh have been more at the receiving end of Naxal violence.
In Bihar, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is not keen on a solution by force, even though his police chief thinks it is needed. In West Bengal, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has been given a little time by the Maoists to withdraw central forces from some areas, which she has pledged to do.
THL Mediagrove journalists VK Shashikumar, Shankar Kumar, Nidhi Bhardwaj and Suraj have reported this video story.
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