By Deepak Kumar Nayak*
On January 31, 2017, four Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) cadres were arrested by the Security Forces (SFs) from the Hanamkonda area in Warangal District.
On January 13, 2017, the District Police arrested a suspected Maoist from his house in Karimnagar town, Karimnagar District. Police recovered 50 rounds of ammunition of different weapons, five rifles, one Carbine 9 mm, and one .32 pistol from the hideout.
According to partial data collated by the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP), at least 24 Maoists were arrested in 2016 in Telangana, in addition to 33 arrested in 2015 and seven in 2014. Five Maoists have been arrested in the current year (data till February 19, 2017).
Mounting SF pressure also led to the surrender of 11 Maoists in 2016, in addition to 13 in 2015, according to SATP data. Importantly, on December 7, 2016, Uyka Dulaiah aka Joga (24), a senior leader of the rank of ‘deputy commander’ of the CPI-Maoist’s Savithri Dalam (armed squad) operating in the restive Sukma District of Chhattisgarh, and carrying a reward of INR 300,000, surrendered before the Police in the Bhadradri Kothagudem District; on November 19, 2016, Sunnam Sridevi aka Nirmala (35), an ‘area committee member’ of the Charla Local Operating Squad (LOS) of the CPI-Maoist, carrying a reward of INR 100,000, surrendered before the Police in Bhadradri Kothagudem District; and on July 8, 2016, Goli Srinivas aka Praveen (39), carrying a cash reward of INR 400,000, surrendered before the Police in Warangal District.
Significantly, Maoist-related violence in the State recorded a decline through 2016 even in comparison to the low levels in the preceding year. According to the SATP database, Telangana registered just one fatality, a Maoist cadre, through 2016, as against four fatalities, including two civilians and two Maoists, in 2015. Since the State’s formation on June 2, 2014, Telangana has recorded eight fatalities, including four civilians and four Maoists. There has, so far, been no casualty in 2017 in Telangana in Left Wing Extremism (LWE)-related violence.
The lone fatality was reported from Mehboobnagar District of Telangana on August 8, 2016. In 2015, fatalities were reported from three Districts of the State – one civilian each from Adilabad and Khammam; and two Maoists in Warangal.
Further, according to data provided by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (UMHA), LWE-linked incidents in Telangana decreased from 11 in 2015 to seven in 2016. The State registered 14 such incidents in 2014. Similarly, attacks on economic targets by the Maoists also decreased from two in 2015 to one in 2016. There were no abduction incidents reported in 2016, as against two in 2015.
Nonetheless, the inherent danger from the Maoists persists in Telangana. According to SATP data, the Maoists were engaged in three reported exchange of fire incidents in 2016, the same as in 2015; five bandh (general shutdown) calls were issued in 2016, as against two such calls in 2015; and two incidents of arson were recorded in 2016, as against one such incident in 2015.
Moreover, according to SATP data, LWE-related violent incidents were reported from nine Districts (Khammam, Mehboobnagar, Warangal, Adilabad, Bhadradri Kothagudem, Jayashankar Bhoopalpally, Nalgonda, Nirmal and Rajanna Sircilla) in 2016. In 2015, violent incidents were reported from eight Districts (Khammam, Adilabad, Karimnagar, Medak, Mehboobnagar, Nalgonda, Warangal, and Nizamabad). Eight of the nine Districts which witnessed violence in 2016 were also listed by UMHA among the 106 Maoist-affected Districts across 10 Indian States.
Further, dubbing the ruling TRS (Telangana Rashtra Samithi) as a “feudal and capitalist” political formations, similar to all other parties which protected properties of landlords and capitalists belonging to undivided Andhra Pradesh, the CPI-Maoist Telangana State committee ‘official spokesman’ Jagan, in a release (media report published on May 22, 2016), appealed, “We are calling upon people and democratic forces to wage a struggle till the problems of drought, drinking and irrigation water and fodder are resolved.” It is significant that TRS was seen to be close to the Maoists during the agitation for a separate State, prior to the division of Andhra Pradesh in 2014.
Worryingly, at least 17,061 Police posts are vacant in the State, against a sanctioned strength of 64,489, a 26.46 per cent deficit, according to the latest data provided by the Bureau of Police Research and Development [BPR&D], as on January 1, 2016. Moreover, the sanctioned strength of the apex Indian Police Service (IPS) Officers in the State is 112, but just 94 officers were in position, considerably weakening decision-making in the Force. The police-population ratio (Policemen per hundred thousand population) in the State was 130.71 per 100,000, as compared to an appallingly low national average of 137.11 [over 220 Policemen per 100,000 population are considered necessary for ‘peacetime policing’].
Despite the fact that the influence of the Maoists has reduced over the last few years across the country, their residual capacities and capabilities, cannot be ignored. The Maoists’ revival plan in Telangana demonstrates clearly that the rebels have not given up. It is imperative that the lacunae in the enforcement apparatus be addressed, before the Maoists are able to gather sufficient force to make a serious attempt to resurrect their fortunes.
* Deepak Kumar Nayak
Research Assistant, Institute for Conflict Management