NEW DELHI, Dec. 20: Even as the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, today sounded the alarm on Naxal activities, it would be no surprise if there is "dramatic" action within a day for two by the extreme Left groups in the areas mentioned by him.
Since the jail break in Jehanabad in Bihar two years ago, the extreme left groups, particularly the CPI (Maoists), have taken the security forces completely by surprise, be it in Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh or Andhra Pradesh. Last Sunday's jailbreak at Dantewada in Chhattisgarh was another example of meticulous planning.
They have overpowered a passenger train, looted an armoury of Home Guards in Giridih and mingled with a wedding party on the main road in Dhanbad to undertake daring action. The element of surprise is their "trump card" as is their hogging the headlines. They have slain an MP in the interior of Jharkhand after apparently being participants in a football match, killed a son of a former chief minister while being part of celebrations. Such activities cannot be successful without local support base. In areas under their control in the hills and jungles, the only government "machinery" available is the airwaves of All India Radio. There are no primary schools, no primary health centres or connecting roads. It is in these areas that the extreme left groups hold complete sway.
Earlier, the official word to denote extreme left activities was "menace"; today the Prime Minister used the term "virus", more popular these days in IT than medicine. Dr Singh asked the states to develop a police force solely dedicated to combating the Maoists. But there are some in the Planning Commission who would point out that the naxalite 'virus' is not really a law and order problem but more the result of lack of development in 33 districts spread over eight states which have been identified as worst affected by Naxal activities. Most of them are in tribal areas. According to one count, as many as 165 districts in the country have some Naxal presence.
Many acknowledge that poverty and non-development of the regions were major reasons for the extreme left groups building up a support base. Rampant corruption and unresponsive bureaucracy along with feudal tendencies and no effort at land reforms help these groups gain an upper hand in the poverty-affected areas.
There has been stray efforts to take up special development projects in the affected areas but they have not gone very far as in the case of Operation Siddharth in Jehanabad in the mid-eighties to prevent the rebels from consolidating their base.
The merger of the CPI (ML) People's War Group and the Maoist Communist Centre (MCC) after protracted talks to form Communist Party of India (Maoists) on 21 September 2004, has also given them a wider area of operation and better coordination of their activities.