Friday, September 18, 2009

Maoist Eye on North East

In a clear admission of the government’s failure to stymie the growth of Maoist terror in the country, Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh said on Tuesday that ‘‘we have not achieved as much success as we would have liked in containing it’’. He was addressing the State police chiefs on the second day of their three-day conclave in New Delhi. ‘‘As I have stated before, dealing with Left-wing extremism requires a nuanced strategy — it cannot be treated simply as a law-and-order problem. Despite its sanguinary nature, the movement manages to retain the support of the tribals and the poorest of the poor in many areas. It has influence among sizeable sections of civil society, the intelligentsia and the youth,’’ Dr Singh said. He added that Maoism ‘‘still retains a certain elan’’ and ‘‘all this adds to the complexity of the problem’’ — which he would expect the police chiefs ‘‘to keep in mind’’ as they ‘‘devise newer and better strategies to deal with the problem’’. However, what is indeed worrying is what Union Home Minister P Chidambaram said a day earlier: that the CPI-Maoist ‘‘has been keenly seeking ideological resonance and tactical understanding with Northeast insurgents and has begun to lend support to their secessionist ideology and demands’’. In fact the Manipur-based Revolutionary People’s Front (RPF), the political wing of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) that happens to be the most influential militant group in Manipur, already has an agreement of mutual understanding, signed in October last year, with the CPI-Maoist.

There is no gainsaying that the Maoists are trying to ramify to the Northeast by forging strategic ties with the militant groups of the region due primarily to the government’s inability to counter and defeat them as also its hackneyed approach towards eliminating the source of Maoist rebellion and sustenance. As the Prime Minister has rightly pointed out, the problem of Maoism requires a ‘‘nuanced strategy’’ — that is, a strategy that entails not only the use of force to decimate the rebels but also a tangible programme to bail out a section of the tribals and the poorest of the poor, who form the Maoist support base, from the debilitating grip of poverty and backwardness. Given the reality, it is only too easy for the CPI-Maoist to strike deals with Northeast-based militant groups for a synergized and more combative operation against the country. After all, the militant groups of the Northeast, aware as they are of their rapidly eroding support base and because of sustained counter-militancy operations, would welcome any outside non-state force for a new gory innings so as to prove their presence and durability despite setbacks. Naturally, in this joint scheme, there cannot be room for any ideology; the only ‘ideology’ being the task of terrorizing the very people for whom the rebellion has been ostensibly staged. The State governments of the Northeast must, therefore, moot new ideas to succeed in their fight against the evil in the making while focusing on intelligence coordination and smarter ways of garnering actionable intelligence. THE SENTINEL

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