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  Opinion   Edit  17 Apr 2024  AA Edit | Major strike against Maoists shows rebellion persists

AA Edit | Major strike against Maoists shows rebellion persists

THE ASIAN AGE.
Published : Apr 18, 2024, 12:00 am IST
Updated : Apr 18, 2024, 12:00 am IST

Sharp rise in Naxal casualties in early 2024 highlights persistent security threats in India's heartland

In the biggest operation against Naxals this year and in which the exchange of gunfire lasted two hours, security forces belonging to District Reserve Guard (DRG) and Border Security Force (BSF) also killed senior commander Shankar Rao, who had a bounty of Rs 25 lakhs on his head. (Representational Image: AFP)
 In the biggest operation against Naxals this year and in which the exchange of gunfire lasted two hours, security forces belonging to District Reserve Guard (DRG) and Border Security Force (BSF) also killed senior commander Shankar Rao, who had a bounty of Rs 25 lakhs on his head. (Representational Image: AFP)

In the first 100 days of 2024, 46 Naxals were killed compared to just 22 in the whole of 2023 and 30 the year before. And then it exploded with around 37 Maoists being gunned down in the Hapatola forest of Chhattisgarh’s Kanker area on April 16 suggesting that the decreasing number of encounters in 2023 and the first part of 2024 may have been deceptive as to the existence and extent of the problem in the country, especially in the Bastar region.

In the biggest operation against Naxals this year and in which the exchange of gunfire lasted two hours, security forces belonging to District Reserve Guard (DRG) and Border Security Force (BSF) also killed senior commander Shankar Rao, who had a bounty of Rs 25 lakhs on his head.

The detection and recovery of a huge cache of weapons and ammunition after the operation would also suggest that nothing can be taken for granted in the vigil on armed violence against India, principally from Maoists.

There is little doubt that progress had been made since 2015 when the tone and tenor of operations against Naxals took on an unambiguous government thrust to tackle the problem that may have been allowed to grow and then fester for decades due to indistinct messaging from the previous Central political leadership. Naxal activity hit a peak in 2010 with 1,005 deaths recorded on both sides.

The velvet glove process was never going to solve the problem though the need for addressing the social conditions leading to resistance building to the concept of nation has never gone away. The fact is despite any efforts at improving the lot of the largely tribal people who live in the belt in central India, the problem of indoctrination of the young and a fight against the symbols of state was never likely to go away.

Better coordination between the Centre and the state and Central forces taking up their vigil, including in forward positions facilitating quicker response than in the old days when advance warnings of the movements of forces led to ambushes, in the violence-hit pockets filled with revolutionary ideologues has resulted in tighter control over the movement of Maoists.

It can be said that the fruits of the growing economy should reach everyone so that there is no pocket of disgruntlement and disaffection that allows such movements to spring up. But any rebels who take up violence to protest against the State and its symbols of power, including telecommunications towers, as the Maoists do even as they gun down innocent civilians, must be taken head-on for the preservation of the security of the citizen and sustain the rule of law.

If there have been signs of increasing hostilities between the Maoists and police forces in 2024, it may be a sign that the former are getting more desperate and itching for action as the civilian population is being won over by the forces that are doing a fine job in standing up to the rebels who are known to use diverse bullying tactics to keep the local population from cooperating with the police forces. The iron fist must prevail to keep the rebellion at bay.

Tags: naxals, anti-insurgency operations, armed violence