Left Wing Violence, Security Vacuum Areas at All-time Low
A multi-pronged strategy by the Narendra Modi government which includes increasing the reach of security forces, targeting the roots of financing and tasking the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to go after top leadership, has resulted in an all-time low in Left Wing violence, with a final push now on the cards to clear out the last remaining Maoist strongholds.
According to government data, Left Wing Extremism (LWE) linked violence is down to half in the past eight years and surrenders by hardened cadres have more than doubled. The data indicates that the geographic spread of LWE influence has been curtailed, with two pockets of concerns now left that are being addressed with the creation of new security camps, infrastructure and social outreach.
At the heart of the crackdown has been an offensive strategy of the forces operating under Home Minister Amit Shah to reduce the number of ‘security vacuum’ areas where there was earlier little or no government presence. People involved in the planning of operations assess that of the over 4,000 sq km of LWE infested areas of South Bastar and Sukma where forces could not operate in the past, over three fourths have been cleared. Officials said that 108 new camps have been set up in LWE affected states since 2019.
“The security vacuum has been removed in Bihar with the opening of five camps last year. In Jharkhand, 22 new camps have been opened. In South Bastar, there is a small area where the vacuum will soon the filled,” government official sources said.
In Odisha, isolated areas have been reduced with the setting up of new camps, bridges and roads. A couple of small pockets left in Malkangiri will be cleared by the year-end.
People aware of the government’s strategy say that there has been a reversal from an earlier ‘defensive policy’ with clear instructions passed on to security forces to clear out hotbeds. “For example, in February, for the first time, a massive 13-day joint operation was launched from the newly-established security camps in Jharkhand’s Lohdarga district.
The engagement took place with Maoists on ten separate occasions and 12 cadres were arrested and one killed,” the official sources said, adding that large quantities of arms and ammunition were recovered.
The MHA Air wing has been strengthened with the appointment of pilots and engineers in the past year and special funds have been granted to the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) to construct helipads with night landing facilities. Official sources say emphasis is being given to use technical intelligence to crack down on cadres, including phone interception, social media monitoring and analysis of mobile data.
Official sources said that under the Security Related Expenditure (SRE) scheme, ₹978 crore has been released to the impacted states in the past three years and there has been an overall doubling of funds disbursal under the scheme since 2014.
“Projects worth Rs 371 crore have been sanctioned to strengthen security forces and intelligence agencies. Over 250 police stations have been fortified at a cost of Rs 620 crore,” official sources said.
With the government identifying financial choking as key to the LWE fight, assets worth Rs 22 crore have been seized by various agencies, including Rs 3 crore by the Enforcement Directorate.
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