People of once naxal affected Saryu in Latehar district of Jharkhand, are now breathing a fearless life which was unthinkable in the past because of Maoists
Twitterati shows solidarity with arrested ‘Urban Naxal’ activists’ screamed a media headline trying to question the intent of the Maharashtra police when many such activists given to pro-Left intellectualism were arrested. The term ‘Urban Naxal’ was dismissed as a mere creation of some sections to accuse those who have an anti-establishment – to be précised anti-Narendra Modi stance. But it’s not all that simple!
Come to the eastern state of Jharkhand – once a den of Maoists militants – the story could be changing. There is another eyewitness account from remote Saryu locality in Latehar region, once a hub of Maoists. “The late night knocking at the doors by Maoists at the dead of the night would send shivers down our spines…..They would seek food and also young boys and girls to be volunteers. These are the thing of past, but no media highlighted this,” says 72-year-old villager Montu Mato.
Of course – from the top cops – we have an updated version on the menace called ‘Urban Naxalism’.
“The ‘Urban Naxalism’ menace is a reality. And I can give you live example….,” says RL Mallick, ADG Operation and Law and Order, of Jharkhand police.
“Financial return cannot be ruled out as the actions from the intellectuals are often not out of altruistic and philanthropic approach,” he says rather caustically.
Mallick says most often ‘money too’ plays a part as the intellectuals stance in favour of the Maoists vis-a-vis alleged government high handedness is not “voluntary” always.
“Moreover, the timing factor is crucial…We have followed these developments. As a trend, we have seen the hue and cry by the intellectuals, the columns in newspapers and so on would increase whenever the Maoists or Naxal elements are under stress,” he sums up.
His colleague Ashish Batra, IG Operations, endorses the views readily and says there were 39 surrenders in 2016 and 47 in 2017 as against 12 in 2014 and 13 in 2015.
“The late night knocking at the doors by Maoists at the dead of the night would send shivers down our pines…..They would seek food and also young boys and girls to be volunteers. These are the thing of past, but no media highlighted this”— 72-year-old Montu Mato, Resident of Saryu
In this context, he said these figures can be linked to many Naxal related violent incidents too. “Compared to 2007 and 2008 when Naxal related incidents were 478 and 436 respectively – at its peak, there is a gradual decline in the number of incidents in 2017 – the number dropping to 196 and 186 and farther below,” he says.
Batra also says the Naxals have been trying to enter the student bodies, trade unions and other pressure groups to often camouflage their actions and create public sentiments in favour of the movement or present the state and the police forces as enemies of the society.
“Alongside the development, if you ask me about my government’s single “biggest achievement” in the three-and-half years. It is our successful crusade against Naxalism. The Maoist forces are now pushed to the wall. I say the Naxalism in Jharkhand is nearing its end”— Raghubar Das, Chief Minister
Of course, from the cops’ version – something that may not be appreciated by the followers of ‘sickularism’ agenda – while Maoism has come down in Jharkhand, “yet the challenges remain”.
Another senior officer of ‘Jharkhand Jaguar’ – a special crackdown force to fight the Naxal menace says, “As a movement, Maoism remains….the spinal cord needs to be broken but the spinal cord in mind. Hence, the challenge is more complex”.
There have been at least 100 surrenders in various ranks since 2016. “Regarding policing and achievement against Maoists in 2018, there have been four surrenders this year. Eight have been eliminated, and 28 arrested”— Saket Singh, DIG with Jharkhand Jaguar
In June this year, the state cabinet gave its nod to frame the new Surrender and Rehabilitation Policy for Maoists enabling more and more rebels to join the mainstream.
“For surrender of a Maoist who has been the member of the Special Area Committee the government also announced that entire reward amount of R 25 lakh would go to the surrendered Naxal,” Mr Mallick said.
As per the revised policy, a family of a surrendered Maoist will get all benefits given to an ordinary man, in case he is killed in the Naxal violence, besides getting increased incentives.
According to sources in Jharkhand Jaguar, the special force to fight Maoists’ menace, the changes were made to make surrender policy more simple and attractive so that more and more Maoists shun violence and get back into the mainstream. “Under the revised policy, one of his (surrendered Naxal) nearest eligible kin will also get a government job, in case his former colleagues kill a surrendered Maoist,” police sources said.
Maoists are getting weakened
According to ADG Operations and other senior police officials, the new Surrender Policy has fetched in rich dividends and slowly but certainly more, and more Maoist ultras are surrendering. “The money offer of Rs 25 lakh for Naxals up to the level of Special Area Committee member has attracted many. The Maoists are getting weakened by the day”.
There have been at least 100 surrenders in various ranks since 2016. “Regarding policing and achievement against Maoists in 2018, there have been four surrenders this year. Eight have been eliminated, and 28 arrested,” says Saket Singh, DIG with Jharkhand Jaguar.
IG Operations Batra says there has been a steep decline in the number of Naxal activities in the State since 2013 – from 349 to 231 in 2014, 196 in 2015, 196 in 2016, 186 in 2017 and 62 till August 2018.
“There will be more surrender in next few months,” says ADG Mallick but he points out that ‘urban Naxal’ menace is a reality and no one should try to believe that this is only a matter of interpretation.
The ‘urban Naxalism’ menace is a reality and often the human right activists and intellectuals back the Maoists and their nefarious movement to the hilt, but on the other hand they also seek to weaken the resolve to eradicate Naxalites, he suggests.
“…..sometime back when the new Surrender Policy of the Jharkhand government was announced, and that fetched rich dividends, there was a PIL in the High Court opposing the Surrender Policy. The message was clear,” says Mallick, ADG.
He goes a step further and says on the face value; the PIL would appear ‘pro-nationalists’. “The argument being Naxals are anti-nationals and why should they be given huge compensation of Rs 25 lakh or so…But the real purpose is something else; they want to jeopardise the State Government’s efforts to facilitate the surrenders because this has ultimately weakened the organisations of the ultras”.
“Apart from operations, we are emphasising on special intervention in the villages from where two or more than two persons have joined the Naxal group,” says SP Latehar Prashant Anand.
A team of senior civil and police officials visited onetime Naxals hub Saryu in Latehar district on September 16.
“There is an improved situation…A CRPF camp has come up on the spot where Maoists had a roving headquarter and a training centre. Today, people of the remote hamlet sleep without any fear at night. Gone are those days when Maoists used to come in the middle of the night asking for food and shelter,” says a senior IPS officer.