Counter Naxalite Strategies In Andhra Pradesh Criminology Essay

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Analysis of Military Strategy. Andhra Police gradually gained an upper hand over the naxalites due to the effective combination of military as well as surrender strategies. As many as 1,848 naxalites (dalam members and above) gave up their ideology and surrendered to the police since 2003.

Trends in Anti LWE operations in Andhra Pradesh. The statistics as given in subsequent sub paragraphs [ii] highlight the efficacy of AP Police in containing the LWE in the state.

Maoists Surrenders and Arrests in Recent Years.

Year

Arrests

Surrenders

Remarks

2005

2

0

2006

26

60

2007

46

130

2008

57

111

2009

52

40

(b) Senior Maoist Leaders Killed in Encounters with SF.

Year

Killed

Remarks

2005

8

includes District Committee member & Secretary Nallamala West Area Committee member.

2006

20

includes State & Central Committee members, District Committee members, Dalam cdrs and Central Technical Committee members.

2007

3

includes Sande Rajamouli alias Prasad, Central Committee Member and Central Military Commission member .

2008

5

includes AP Orissa Border Special Zone Committee member.

Reasons for Success of SF Operations. The gains in AP are the consequence of sustained and focused Police responses and of institutional capacities that have evolved systematically over the past decades, to crystallize into a model of decisive engagement with the Naxalite insurgents. Important facets of the strategy contributing to the success of Greyhound operations in the state are discussed below:-

(a) Long Term Planning and concentrated focus.The counter-insurgency response was based on understanding of the Maoist 'protracted war' model, and a comprehensive and consistent strategy has been progressively implemented since 1997. The Greyhounds operate as spearhead in operations, the operational capacities of the entire Police Force have been augmented.As a matter of deliberate policy, Police action has been focused on the rebel leadership and on active cadres. Among those killed in 2007 , for instance, is Sendhe Rajamouli aka Prasad/Krishna/Murali, a member of the CPI-Maoist Central Military Commission and State Secretary for Karnataka, who was killed on June 22, 2007, in Anantpur District. Rajamouli ranked second in the Maoist hierarchy, just below Party General Secretary, Muppala Lakshmana Rao aka Ganapathi.

(b) Gaining Local Support. A conscious decision was taken not to act against those who were providing food, safe haven or other services, which did not directly threaten public security or lives, often under threat from the Maoists. The result was a series of military successes, including large numbers of arrests and surrenders which yielded additional and crucial information flows, and encouraged further public cooperation as the general confidence in Police capabilities improved. The result was that the Nallamalla Forest, which accounted for well over a third of the total Maoist armed strength of 1,100 in AP in early 2005, now has no more than 60-70 armed cadres dispersed across the area, with the entire top leadership of the Party relocating outside the State, particularly in the Andhra-Orissa Border (AOB) and Dandakaranya (DK) Special Zones, especially the Bastar Region, including the Abujhmadh Forest, of neighbouring Chhattisgarh.

(c) Exploiting Opportunities. Under sustained pressure in late 1990s, the then PWG leadership began to shift attention to the dense Nallamalla forest region as a safe haven and command centre, and by 2003, had secured a significant concentration in the area. The 'peace talk' period, commencing May 2004, acted as consolidation phase for the Maoists across the State. As many of the top Maoist leaders and cadres began to move overground, to mobilise support and to recruit cadres, anonymity was lost, and discipline and established constraints were eroded, augmenting opportunities for intelligence penetration by the security forces. The Police and intelligence apparatus was highly active throughout the ceasefire period, trained continuously, consolidated the strengths and capacities of District Forces, and passed on the operational lessons of successful campaigns in the Telengana region to Forces operating in Nallamalla. The result was that, when the talks collapsed, the state's response capacities were excellent, and information flows were high.

(d) Building Comprehensive Knowledge Base. After suffering initial setbacks during operations in the Nallamalla forest, it was realized that the forces lacked familiarity with the terrain and that the available information and maps did not reflect ground situations in sufficient details, resulting in difficulties for the forces. Within a year, however, every pocket within the Nallamalla Forest area had been covered, including some in the most difficult terrain, creating a comprehensive knowledge base for operations.

(e) Capacity Building. The state has invested heavily in the modernisation of the Police forces to include induction of modern weapons, communications, transport and support technologies. These have been made available to each Police Station and Post. Further, the norms that have been established for buildings, protective walls, guarding, lighting, weaponry and manpower for each Police Station and Post in Andhra Pradesh are probably unmatched in any other part of the country.

(f) Police Outreach Programmes. Police outreach programmes reinforced public disenchantment with the Maoists, who had successfully projected a 'Robin Hood' image in early stages, but had progressively lost popular support. This assisted in information flows from the population thus enabling focused operations against hardcore targets.

(g) Augmenting Intelligence Collection. There has also been an enormous augmentation of intelligence capacities at all levels, with tremendous coordination between the Intelligence and Operations wings.

(h) Sound Surrender and Rehabilitation Policy. Andhra Pradesh government has been praised by the Centre for its effective surrender and rehabilitation policy for Naxal cadres. This has contributed significantly in motivating the disenchanted Maoist cadres into laying down arms to enter the social mainstream.

Fallout of Greyhound Operations. Though the operations have led to major successes against the Maoists, it has not been without fallouts. These are:-

(a) Relocation of Maoist to Neighbouring States. The sustained pressure resulted in large number of leadership and cadres shifting their bases to neighbouring states of Orissa and Chhattisgarh. Thus it may seem that Naxal insurgency has been contained in Andhra Pradesh, in effect the core group has shifted bases to safe havens outside the state.

(b) Creation of Vigilante Groups. It is alleged that Police authorities have encouraged raising of civilian vigilante groups in hinterland to counter the Maoists. Groups like Narsi Cobras, Kakatiya Cobras and Nallamala Black Cobras, have issued threats to individual rights activists and are seen as an attempt by the police to use renegades against the Naxalite sympathisers [iii] .

Lessons Learnt. Major lessons that emerge from the success of the Andhra Pradesh counter Naxal strategy are:-

(a) Need to Raise Capacities of Entire Force. The capacities of entire force must be raised before elite units like the Greyhound can secure tangible and lasting results.

(b) Enhancing Presence of the State in Naxal Stronghold. The state needs to make its presence felt in the hinterland to reduce the vacuum of governance which facilitates the growth of Naxal influence. The Andhra Pradesh government affected this by establishing police posts in each village in Telangana and Nallamalla forest area and also strengthening the political base in these areas.

(c) Need for Strategy with a Long Term Perspective. The Greyhound was raised in late 1980s, however it started showing tangible results only by 2004. This highlights the need to formulate a long term perspective while engaging the Naxalites and implementing the strategy in phased manner to garner the results.

(d) Sustained and Relentless Campaign. The breakdown of peace talks between the government of YSR Reddy and the CPI(M-L) points at the reluctance of the Maoists to engage in any meaningful dialogue with the state. The ceasefire was instead used by the Maoists to reorganise and strengthen their base. Thus while implementing the counter Naxalite campaign, sustained and relentless operations need to be conducted without surrendering to short sighted political expediency.

(e) Building Indigenous Capacities for Specialised Outfits. The Andhra Pradesh Police has created its own Special Force structure to meet its state specific requirements. The training programme and operational employment of this force is synchronised to best address the peculiarities of PWG tactics and terrain in Andhra Pradesh. Each affected state similarly needs to raise a counter insurgency force which is tailored to fit the operational requirements of that state.

(f) Perception Management. Another highlight of the entire strategy is the management of media in managing the perceptions of local population. The state has done well to highlight the success of Greyhound force as also propagate the failures of Naxal leadership. The outreach programmes of Police have also assisted in changing perceptions of state apathy for the backward areas.

Chhattisgarh: A Failed Experiment?

Assessment of State Strategy. In Chhattisgarh there is a clear evidence of a lack of focus and a long term counter Naxalite strategy. This is visible particularly in the relative lack of preparedness of the Police Force in terms of equipment, arms, communications, transport and facilities, and the abysmal performance of institutions of civil governance in Maoist-affected areas. Further, spontaneous local campaigns like Salwa Judum have been poorly managed by the state in an attempt to transfer the state's responsibility for security to general public, thereby creating greater insecurity and division within the tribal society.

Analysis of Anti Maoists Operations in Chhattisgarh. The figures as given below reflect the impact of counter Naxal operations in the state.

(a) Maoists Arrests and Surrenders in Recent Years [iv] . The figures were higher in 2007, however there were widespread allegations of Police's highhandedness in arresting anyone remotely connected with Maoists which included some civil rights activists. Surrenders remained low due to lack of an effective rehabilitation policy.

Year

Arrests

Surrenders

2005

24

44

2006

38

-

2007

69

83

2008

48

2

2009

110

2

(b) Fatalities Analysis [v] . There has been a significant increase in number of incidents in 2006 compared to previous years. The number of casualties increased by 130% in 2006 when compared to 2005 and almost 50% of these were civilian casualties. In contrast in 2007, though the casualties were marginally lesser, 52% of the casualties were security forces.

Year

Civilan

SF

Naxal

Total

2005

52

48

26

126

2006

189

55

117

361

2007

95

182

73

350

2008

22

18

32

72

(c) Overall Trends in Naxal Violence [vi] .

(d) Poor SF to Insurgents Kill Ratio. The total Maoist fatalities in Chhattisgarh in 2007 stood at 66, yielding a SF:Maoist ratio of 3:1, which translates to three SF personnel killed for each Maoist fatality.

Reasons for Failure of Chhattisgarh Strategy. The utter lack of governance and administrative infrastructure in the hinterland and poor policing in the state are primary reasons for failure of the counter Naxal operations. The major aspects which emerge are as follows:-

(a) Lack of a Sustained Long Term Strategy. Even years after the creation of the state, Chhattisgarh has failed to both measure the scale of Naxalite threat and prepare a long term counter Naxal strategy. The State response has been of demanding additional para military forces from the Centre and indulging in political blame with the Centre instead of concentrating on institutional capacity building measures.

(b) Force Deficits. The density of the police force in terms of both police strength/population and police strength/area ratios is poor and well below the national average. It is inadequate for the counter-insurgency needs of the State; in fact, it is insufficient even for normal law and order administration. Specifically, the all India average police-population ratio stands at 122 per 100,000 population. The UN norm for minimum police strength is about 222 per 100,000 (1:450). By contrast, Chhattisgarh has a sanctioned strength of 103 per 100,000 [vii] . Available Force in the affected areas is simply too small even to protect itself, as has been evident in the numbers of successful attacks to which it has been subjected. In the Bastar Division, for instance, an additional Force of over 80 companies is required for the protection of existing Police Stations, Police Posts and important Government establishments and projects.

(c) Shortages in Police Ranks. There is major shortage in various ranks of police force leading to a gap between sanctioned strength and available strength. The deficit varies between 20 to 50 percent and is as high as 79 percent in Maoist affected areas (e.g. at the rank of Sub-Inspectors in the Bastar Division only 8 of 38 sanctioned posts were filled at the end of 2006). It is also important to note that unfilled vacancies are max at the functional level of leadership, ie in the ranks of Sub Inspectors (SI) and Assistant Sub Inspectors (ASI) [viii] .

(d) Intelligence Vacuum. There is an evident lack of hard intelligence with the SF to conduct pin pointed strikes against the Maoists. The state has little other than the Salwa Judum cadres and the newly recruited SPOs to provide it with actionable intelligence to plan and conduct sustained counter Naxal operations in the hinterland.

(e) Reliance on CPMF for Counter Naxal Operations. It has been learnt by experiences in Punjab and Andhra Pradesh that insurgencies can best be tackled by state's own police forces while additional forces allotted can augment the former's existing presence in affected areas. However in case of Chhattisgarh the state police has pass on the bulk of counter-insurgency responsibilities onto the Central Forces, with no more than an estimated 300 State Police personnel actually deployed in offensive counter-insurgency operations. But Central Forces have obvious difficulties in operating in unfamiliar and difficult geographical and cultural terrain, and tend to be starved of adequate operational intelligence.

(f) Leadership Problems. There is an obvious lack of political will and leadership in State Police Force to counter the Maoist menace. Most senior officers have spent their entire careers serving with only minimal law and order management experience. These officers are not psychologically oriented to make the transition to a rigorous counter-insurgency role, and largely tend to evade responsibilities relating to counter-insurgency operations. Few officers are willing to accept postings in the affected areas and, at senior levels, few are even willing to tour the worst affected areas. The top Police leadership, consequently, remains overwhelmingly confined to Raipur.

(g) Under Utilisation of Resources and Lack of Basic Capacities.The State has failed to develop basic capacities of its Police force. Facilities available to personnel of the Police and CPMFs operating in the State, especially in rural and remote areas, are very poor and often insufficient particularly in terms of living quarters, sequestering and fortification of camps and Police posts/stations, and access to various resources within such camps and posts. Basic equipment, transportation, communications and available technologies require upgrades. Unlike, Andhra Pradesh which undertook a deliberate capacity building programme, Chhattisgarh has done little in this regard. As a result despite provision of force multipliers like the UAVs, the police force has failed to exploit the technological advantage. The information provided by the UAVs in the past was not followed by any immediate ground operational response.

(h) Lack of Governance and Outreach Programs. The Naxal affected regions of Chhattisgarh are amongst the most backward and under developed regions in the country. Force application in isolation can do little to change perceptions of the masses. Chhattisgarh Governemnt has not engaged the tribals in either meaningful outreach programmes or creation of job opportunities. Salwa Judum, the only state sponsored campaign has also been suspended due to various reasons already discussed earlier in the paper. Maoists therefore retain a near total control in these areas making it difficult for the SF to launch sustained operations.

(j) Failure of Salwa Judum Camapign. The State failed to garner the local support of tribals despite hailing Salwa Judum as a spontaneous people's movement against the Naxalites. It instead sought to militarise the movement by arming the Salwa Judum cadres and employing them with SF in counter Naxal operations. As a result the tribals themselves became targets of Naxal retribution and were forced to move to Salwa Judum camps for protection. This internal displacement of tribals of Salwa Judum has generated resentment and loss of support among the locals for Chhattisgarh's present counter Naxal strategy.

Lessons Learnt. The lessons learnt from the Andhra Pradesh model are also relevant in Chhattisgarh's context. However in addition the failure of Chhattisgarh's counter Naxal strategy also brings forth the following issues:-

(a) Employment of CPMF. To be able to fully exploit the combat potential of additional Central forces, they need to be employed in coordination with state's police forces. Forces inducted from outside the state need time to familiarise and orient with terrain and operational situation before undertaking counter insurgency operations. They also need to be provided secure bases from which operations could be launched as also operational intelligence.

(b) Special Counter Naxalite Force. Though most of the states have followed suit in wake of the success of Greyhound Force, it needs to be understood that an elite force like Greyhound cannot operate in a poor policing environment. Chhattisgarh therefore needs to upgrade its state security apparatus first before employing specially trained troops in counter insurgency operations.

(c) Nurturing People's Movement. The state should not delegate the responsibility of fighting insurgents to unarmed civilians. The idea of resistance movement to a state sponsored militia has seen its fallouts in the Salwa Judum campaign. The state should however cease such initiatives to mobilize the masses against extremist ideology as public support is the first prerequisite for a successful insurgency. Examples of such initiatives are the creation of Village Defence Committees in J&K and NE states.

(d) Political Will and Leadership. No force application strategy can accrue success till a political will exists to engage in a protracted war with insurgents. A strong political resolve will also catalyse the senior command echelons of State Police to achieve tangible results against the Maoists.

Assessing the trends in the actions by the Maoists it can be stated that the future isn't too bright for India regarding the problem of Naxalism that is staring hard towards it. The future course of the Naxalists can be predicted as:-

(a) Spreading its roots in non affected states like Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh and Haryana. The LWE are able to increase the number of their followers in economically backward areas by exploiting their sense of economic deprivation. While the administration is not very effective in the tribal areas, people also do not have an easy access to law and order machinery and the lower judiciary is also not easily available to the people. [ix] 

(b) Spreading of revolutionary ideas and making bases in urban areas and enhance recruitment. Maoists have understood that without the participation of the urban masses it is impossible to achieve countrywide victory. Since the urban areas are the stronghold of the state the Maoist have gone for long term approach following Mao's teachings. [x] 

(c) Make selective strikes which will fetch them maximum returns in terms of propaganda, arms and ammunition, money and adverse effect on their opponents. These involve the sending of cadre to countryside, infiltration of enemy ranks, organising in key industries, sabotage actions in coordination with the rural armed struggle, logistical support, etc. [xi] 

(d) Make links with other insurgent groups in India. The growing relationship of Maoists with insurgent groups operating in eastern and northeastern parts of India has become an additional cause of concern with serious implications for internal security. The border areas, both inter-state borders and India-Nepal border remain more vulnerable.Several front organizations such as the Coordination Committee of Maoist Parties and Organisations of South Asia (CCOMPOSA) and the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement (RIM), remained active during the year to provide greater coherence and focus to Maoist movements in South Asia. [xii] 

(e) Maintain the stronghold in tribal and backward regions. Rural and tribal areas are the backbone of Maoist operations and they are likely to maintain their stronghold over these areas.

(f) Project itself as anti feudal and as the only front against repression. It is an excellent form of building broad fighting unity against repression is to take up particular cases of brutal state repression and immediately mobilise all sections of the masses in militant struggle.

(g) Avoid direct confrontation with the state when it is weak and strike at the most opportune time. Maoists are bidding their time in building up their operating base and infrastructure in urban areas.

(h) United front against Hindu Fascist Forces. To be effective it has to involve the masses, particularly the masses from the minorities. This therefore means that they must have substantial grass root work among the minorities and the victims of the Hindu fascist atrocities. [xiii] 

(j) Development of intelligence network for future operations. The Maoists are trying to infiltrate into the government agencies and rival groups and build up intelligence which can be utilised for future operations. These intelligence help the Maoists plan and prepare their operations meticulously and withstand the onslaught of the security agencies.

(k) Cyber Warfare, as part of their operations. Maoists are attempting to exploit the power of computers to further the military objectives of the revolution. They may plan to set up their own network or try to damage the networks of the enemy which is a remote possibility now and which can only be done if the development of urban mass movement is carried out and consolidate comrades with the required skills for such work. [xiv] 

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