Apart from unleashing a reign of terror in Chhattisgarh, Naxalites are virtually running a parallel government there.
With 160-odd police stations in 11 districts currently affected by Naxal activities, the red army is not only upsetting the state's socio-economic condition but also hitting political activities in their areas of influence. Senior officials in Bastar, one of the worst affected areas, told HT the situation is going from bad to worse with Maoists trying to dominate the local administration while getting more violent in their terror tactics.
"A report by a committee of senior officials in the late '90s concluded that Naxalites were running a parallel administration in various parts of Bastar. Today, one will find the situation has gone worse," a top bureaucrat said on condition of anonymity.
With the Naxals keeping a close watch on all comings and goings, no development has reached the interiors of districts like Dantewada, Bijapur, Narayanpur, Koriya and Sarguja. Cabinet Secretary K.M. Chandrashekar has directed the local administrations to combat the menace with a combination of police action and development but that's easier said than done, say many.
Bureaucrats and police are divided on how the problem should be tackled. Secretary, Public Works Department, M.K. Raut believes development can reach the Naxal-hit areas only after the ultras have been flushed out. "Why is the state police letting development take precedence over law and order... Maoists regularly hit development work to prevent the interior villages from being connected to the outside world. So unless total safety of department staff is ensured, how can we think of beginning the work," he asks.
But Inspector General of Police, Bastar, R.K. Vij says that had the various government departments, particularly the PWD, delivered on their responsibility to ensure better roads and other infrastructure, the state wouldn't have lost so many security personnel to Naxal violence.
Chief Minister Dr Raman Singh admits that the war against the Naxals will be a long one. But he adds: "There is no question of the state administration surrendering before the Naxalites when it is a national problem. In no case will their cowardly deeds be tolerated."
With the Naxals unrelenting in their attacks, the state government recently asked senior police officials to get tough with them. Chief Secretary Shivraj Singh said: "The police have been asked to resort to tough measures."