March of the Red brigade ‘Naxalite bomb ticking’
New Delhi, May 22: The Centre's barometer on ultra-Left militancy has just registered a quantum jump — Naxalites have widened their network across 183 districts in 16 states — more than three-times the geographical spread estimated two years ago.
An internal assessment report prepared by the Union home ministry on the Naxalite situation now lists Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi as the states where Naxalites have "established new bases by setting up regional and district-level centres".
It is, however, strange how Kerala, which is known for having an established base of Naxalites for many years now, figured in the list of new areas of operation.
In a similar assessment in 2005, the Centre had estimated Naxalite presence in 55 districts in seven states. The Union home ministry claimed only marginal increase in Naxalism in its status report on internal security released in April this year.
According to home ministry figures, incidents of Naxalite violence actually went down from a high of 1,608 in 2005 to 1,509 in 2006, though the number of police personnel killed registered a marginal increase — from 153 in 2005 to 157 in 2006.
The situation is becoming critical if one looks at the increasing sway of the red corridor. "Violence is not the immediate aim of the Maoists; they take it up as a last resort when their hegemony in an established area such as Chhattisgarh is challenged. The worrying factor is that the plan to increase their area of activity is working perfectly. It could become impossible to contain them once they decide to hit at many places suddenly," said the senior home official.
Likewise, the strength of the armed Maoist cadre has also gone up phenomenally — from 8,000 in 2005 to 11,000 in 2006, to 15,000 in 2007. "Almost 90 per cent of the armed cadre strength is from the erstwhile MCCI and PWG, while the rest comes from 34 other organisations. These other groups are playing a crucial role in setting up the bases and enlisting new cadres in the new areas," said the official. Naxalites are looking at the issues of Dalits, minorities, tribals and women to increase their area of activity.