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Dismantling The Red Corridor

It's been a week since Naxalites attacked a convoy of  Chhattisgarh State Congress leaders in the Darbha Valley of Chhattisgarh. The incident and it's investigation has exemplified what is wrong with the way security is handled in India.

The convoy included leaders of high stature including two former chief ministers, a State Congress head and a former Leader of Opposition. Yet the security levels were abysmally low.

Mr. Mahendra Karma, the founder of the anti-Maoist Salwa Judum Movement had Z+ security and yet he didn't even have half his bodyguards around him on that ill-fated day. The bodyguards or Personal Security Officers themselves were ill-equipped with pistols in comparison to the Maoists who were armed with rifles. They didn't even have adequate ammunition.  Reinforcements reached after extremely long delays. In short, the convoy was a sitting duck.

The way the Naxal situation in India has been handled isn't exactly ideal. Of all the states, only Andhra Pradesh has managed to solve the naxal issue. If we wish to end the Maoist rebellion, we need to ensure that the Andhra model of flushing out naxals is followed nationwide.

The Andhra Government succeeded in dismantling the Maoist structure in the state by bringing in development in Naxal-hit areas. Efforts were made to ensure that roads, electricity and facilities for clean drinking water reached the remote villages of Naxal hit districts. This development ensured that the tribals, the backbone of the Maoist rebellion in India, began to withdraw support to the Naxals.

The Andhra Government also raised an elite commando force called the Greyhounds to take on the Maoists. These Greyhounds were well-trained, well-equipped and most importantly, well-funded. Even today, the salary of the Greyhounds exceeds that of the National Security Guard (NSG), a nationwide force for counter-terrorism activities.

The Greyhounds also outnumber the Maoists in Andhra Pradesh and have paid informants in almost every village. This strategy has helped them in nabbing and killing many topmost Maoist leaders. Maoists, who once had a presence in 23 of the state's 26 districts, now lack a single stronghold there.

If this model can be followed in all the states which have a strong presence of Maoists, the tide will turn. The Union Government could also do it's bit by helping with the funding of the development programs and anti-Maoist units.

Another important aspect of the solution to the crisis is better coordination between all the bodies involved in handling the Naxal issue. Often, the State Police and Central Paramilitary forces don't coordinate effectively which leads to fiascoes like the one in Dantewada in 2010, when 76 troops were massacred by the Maoists.

Coordination between the Center and the various states involved also needs improvement. If we can manage to do this and we began a nationwide offensive against the Maoists, they will have nowhere to go. They will be hemmed in on all sides. Of course, such an offensive will also need to be supplemented with sufficient development programs.

We also need to make efforts to strike at the very foundation of the Naxals- their cadres. The death of top-rung leaders is but a short-term loss for them for they can always be replaced. But if by providing enough incentives, we manage to wean away Maoist cadres, we can deal a body blow to them.

Our bureaucrats and security officers also need to shed their overconfidence and negligence. Had the politicians and police officers not underestimated the bravery and strength of the Naxals, the attack in the Darbha Valley wouldn't have occurred. We need to learn our lessons or we might never succeed in our goal of annihilating the Naxalite rebellion.

The Red Corridor, the epicenter of Maoist's activities in India spans a large area, covering  many states. It is a well known fact that in much of the Red Corridor, the Government writ doesn't run. It is the Maoists who govern the area. If we need to flourish fully as a country, we need to stop the Naxals and restore law and order in this area.

 Our Prime Minister once said that Maoists are the biggest threat to India's internal security. It is time that we ensure this threat is completely uprooted from down below. It is time that we end this rebellion which began more than 46 years ago.

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