Naxals going 'soft'

Naxals going 'soft'

There is no real spurt in Naxal violence ever since the security forces launched an intensified, co-ordinated counter-naxalite operation.

Abducted Sukna district Collector Alex Paul Menon during an outreach  programme for tribals.

But it has forced the left-extremist wingers to opt for ‘softer’ means and targets like the serial abduction of high-profile persons.

With a more aggressive police force hot on their trail, it is increasingly difficult for the naxals to resort to direct action such as attacking police stations and planting IEDs (improvised explosive device), which are routinely detected and disposed of by search and reconnaissance parties.

Besides, they need to stop the police and para-military forces from going into their hideouts. Hence, the recourse to a “softer” route of taking hostage high profile officials and elected representatives, which does not entail loss of cadres and also gives them a bargaining chip to secure the release of their imprisoned comrades.

After all, the whole counter-naxalite operation is not to kill but neutralise, explains Brig B K Ponwar (retired), Commandant, Counter Terrorism and Jungle Warfare College, Kanker in Chhatisgarh, the gateway town to the Naxalite-dominated district of Bastar.

The former Armyman, who has been specially appointed by the Chhatisgarh Government to train its police personnel in guerilla warfare to treat the enemy (Naxals) to his own pill, says bringing the Naxals to the negotiating table through their mediators is a major breakthrough for the state as they never responded to offers of dialogue in the past. Moreover, there is no loss of life on both sides.

But, he believes that having started the negotiation, some sort of military pressure could also be mounted to secure the release of the abducted Sukna district Collector Alex Paul Menon, who is being held hostage by the Naxals.

“Some posturing helps as nobody likes to be surrounded,” he argues but adds that the government  is following a policy and is making good headway. “The Collector will ultimately come out safe,” he believes.

Naxals seldom kill “political prisoners” like they hack a one or two star policeman, as they use them to get their demands met, including release of jailed cadres. “According to legal process, if some cadres are released there is no harm, especially if they return to their families and get rehabilitated,” he adds.

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