All posts by Newsroom24x7 Network

Newsroom24x7.com is headed by Lalit Shastri. He is is an Indian journalist, columnist, wildlife film maker and environmentalist. He has headed the Madhya Pradesh Bureau of The Hindu and The Asian Age - two of India's leading English newspapers - for more than 20 years. He had quit a corporate job to investigate the causes leading to the 1984 Bhopal gas disaster. He also covered extensively from ground zero for The Hindu, the riots that followed the demolition of the Babri Mosque in Ayodhya and repeated attacks by Naxalite-Maoists in the Central Indian States of Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh.

Who are the Maoists?

Newsroom24x7 Network

DM Mitra addressing the seminar on Maoist extremism

BHOPAL: Senior Advisor to the Madhya Pradesh Planning Commission D.M. Mitra said here 29 September 2011 that Maoists are quite different from other naxalites groups of past and present. They have been able thrive in the forest areas where they could easily hide and where democratic political space is not available to the inhabitants.

Mitra, who is an IPS officer of the 1983 batch belonging to the Madhya  Pradesh cadre was addressing a symposium on the “Maoist Problem” organised jointly by State Academy of Administration and newsroom24x7.com. The symposium was attended by senior IAS, IPS and Indian Forest Service officers, especially officers posted in districts bordering Chhattisgarh.

Mitra, who has done research on Maoists with extensive field studies across the country, gave a comprehensive presentation on the genesis, spread and handling of Maoist violence. He clarified many wrong conceptions about Maoists. Nothing much can be done in about 16 per cent of areas in the so-called Red Corridor unless police restores the writ of the government in those areas by flushing the
Maoists out, Mitra said adding administration and democratic political space can be improved in the rest 84 per cent areas in order to prevent them from
falling under Maoist influence. He recommended strengthening of Government’s Agencies, Police’s Service and Defensive Capabilities and
factors for Enabling Democratic Opportunities, including Education,
Communication (Roads), Recruitment into Government and Livelihood.

NVDA Vice Chairman OP Rawat

Vice Chairman Narmada Valley Development Authority O.P. Rawat said
that the Maoists can succeed in making inroads only if there is turbulence or injustice. He cited the example of Balaghat in Madhya Pradesh where the results have been encouraging with regard to giving
settlement rights to the forest dwellers under the Forest Rights Act [The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006].

Rawat said the NBA (Narmada Bachao Andolan led by Medha Patkar) had made the Government of India and many state governments come to their knees and frame proper resettlement policy. Earlier the outdated Land Acquisition Act, which dates back to 1894, was being used to acquire land and deprive the tribals of their means of livelihood but when NBA raised its head and the GOI had to come out with a resettlement policy. Laying stress on the importance of building a system of canals in the Narmada valley for irrigation purpose, Rawat said that canals would irrigate the fields of both the rich and the poor farmers. Whereas, under the situation prevailing till now only the big farmers had benefited from lift irrigation as they were having the means to use pumps to irrigate their fields situated as far as 50 to 60 kms from the Narmada River. The poor farmers, who lack the capacity to install these pumps, were paying a heavy price to the big farmers for irrigating their crop. The vested interest of the big farmers is to block the construction of canals in the Narmada Valley, he pointed out and said a stage had been reached where the Supreme Court even served a notice to the NBA asking why it should not be
blacklisted.

In his opening remarks, Director General of the Academy of Administration and Management Prashant Mehta stressed the need for striking a balance and said while the security forces are engaged in combating the Maoists, a holistic approach should be adopted to improve the quality of life of the people living in inaccessible
areas.

The Academy Director Rakesh Agarwal also focused attention on this aspect and said those in government should keep themselves informed about the total dynamics of the problem

Lalit Shastri speaking about the Naxalite menace

Speaking on this occasion senior journalist Lalit Shastri cited gaping gaps in the past when it came to releasing funds and implementing the Anti-naxalite Action Plan after the 1992 Konta blast in Bastar in
which 17 policemen were killed. He laid stress on the need to give jungle warfare training to security personnel before posting them in the Maoist affected areas.

The Symposium was presided by former DGP of Chhattisgarh S.M. Shukla and conducted by H M Mishra, Professor and CEO, Centre for Knowledge Management and Good Governance, Academy of Administration..

Genesis and Spread of Maoist Violence

Newsroom24x7 Network

Bhopal: A comprehensive ground-level study of the “Genesis and Spread of Maoist Violence” by the Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPRD) concludes that the Maoists are much different from the earlier naxalites and are known to have their presence in 21 States.

According to the report on Maoist violence prepared by Principal Advisor to the Madhya Pradesh Planning Commission D.M. Mitra and published by BPRD, which reports to the Union Ministry of Home Affairs, the estimation of Maoist cadre strength across various parts of the country varies from 10,000, 15000 to as much as 25000. Similarly, geographical spread of Maoist activities is estimated over 190 districts with Maoist violence reported from 90 of the 627 districts in the country.

When contacted, Mitra told Newsroom24x7 that the earlier naxalites were active in the agrarian areas and at present the other naxalite factions are also active in rural and semi-urban areas, whereas the Maoists are confined to the inaccessible forest areas bordering the affected states. 

While focusing attention on the geographical spread of Moists, the BPRD report points out that the Maoist presence gets exaggerated because for just one incident reported in one remote corner of a district, a whole district is counted as affected. It has also been highlighted that less than 10 per cent of police stations of the nine most affected states have reported Maoist violence, where as more than 50 per cent of the districts are identified as affected by Maoist violence.

Mitra, who is a senior IPS officer belonging to the Madhya Pradesh cadre, says Maoist violence has emerged as the biggest internal security challenge since Independence. It started as two independent streams in the forests of North Telengana region of Andhra Pradesh and forest areas of Bengal and undivided Bihar in the ’80s of the last Century and spread to a large number of states. While Andhra Pradesh has gone through different stages of development of Maoist violence and has been able to reverse the trend, other states could be seen as struggling at various earlier stages that Andhra Pradesh (AP) has gone through, he has pointed out.

The BPRD Report traces the origin of Maoist violence by pointing out how some of the more radical elements broke away from the CPI in 1964 to form CPI-M after the CPI had joined electoral democracy in 1951. When CPI-M also embraced electoral politics, this became unacceptable to the more radical Maoist faction within CPI-M, which started the first phase of the violent Naxalite movement. The origin of Maoist violence can be traced to two factions of naxalites – namely, the People’s War Group (PWG) of Andhra Pradesh and Maoist Communist Centre (MCC) of Bihar. The Maoists are a different species, which evolved out of the earlier species but very little of what applied to the earlier naxalites actually applies to the Maoists, the Report adds.

The Report goes on to recommend that in the context of our federal structure, conceptual integration and coherence in government approach to handling of Maoism is necessary. It has also been emphasised that the States have to fight the Maoists with the help of the Central government and not vice-versa. Article 355 of Constitution makes it a duty of the Union government to protect the States from internal disturbances. Unless it is felt that a state government cannot discharge its Constitutional duties, the Central government’s role remains that of support.