ISSN 2330-717X

India: Agenda Of Expansion In Madhya Pradesh – Analysis

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By Deepak Kumar Nayak*

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Though no Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist)-linked incident has been reported during the first 63 days of the current year (data till March 6, 2022), 2021 data indicates that the security situation in the State with regard to Maoist violence deteriorated, as compared to 2020. 

According to partial data collated by the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP), the State recorded 14 Maoist-linked incidents in 2021 as compared seven in 2020, which was till then the highest number of such incidents recorded in a year since March 6, 2000, when SATP started compiling data on Left Wing Extremism (LWE). There were five incidents in 2019. Since March 6, 2000, at least 85 incidents of arms recovery have been recorded in Madhya Pradesh.   

Of the 14 incidents in 2021, three were incidents of killing, which resulted in five fatalities (three civilians and two Maoists). Of seven incidents in 2020, three were incidents of killing, which led to four fatalities (one civilian and three Maoists). Since March 6, 2000, the State has recorded a total of 24 fatalities [11 civilians, four Security Force (SF) personnel and nine Naxalites (Left Wing Extremists, LWEs).

Total fatalities recorded in 2021 are the highest in a year since March 6, 2000, when the number was the same (five fatalities: two civilians and three SF personnel).  

Civilian fatalities recorded in 2021 were the highest in a year since March 6, 2000, with the previous high of two recorded thrice earlier: 2000, 2016 and 2019.

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The State, however, registered the last SF fatality on September 22, 2010, when the Maoists killed a trooper of the Hawk Force (special anti-LWE force of the Madhya Pradesh Police) near Sitapala village in Balaghat District. Meanwhile, SFs killed two Maoists in 2021, including a woman. They were killed in an exchange of fire with SFs in a forest at Lalpur village under Motinala Police Station limits in Mandla District, on the intervening night of February 12 and 13.

Further, SFs arrested four Maoists in 2021, in addition to one in 2020. 71 Maoists have been arrested in the State since March 6, 2000. Though no Maoist surrendered in 2021 or in 2020, 15 Maoists have reportedly surrendered in the State since March 6, 2000 – seven in 2000, seven in 2004 and one in 2013.

Meanwhile, other parameters of violence also suggest marginal increase in Maoist activities in the State. At least four incidents of arson were reported in 2021, as against no such incident in 2020. The State has recorded a total of nine such incidents since March 6, 2000. Similarly, at least five incidents of arms recovery were reported in 2021, as against two such incidents in 2020. Since March 6, 2000, at least 22 such incidents have been recorded in the State. Likewise, at least seven incidents of recovery of posters/pamphlets/literature were recorded in 2021, as against three in 2020. Since March 6, 2000, at least 17 such incidents have been recorded in the State.

In 2021, Maoist activities were reported from two Districts – Balaghat and Mandla – which fell in the ‘moderately affected’ category. In 2020 as well, Maoist activities were reported from the same Districts, but while Balaghat fell in the ‘moderately affected’ category, Mandla was in the ‘marginally affected’ category. Of the five fatalities in 2021, Balaghat accounted for three and Mandla, two. In 2020, all four fatalities were recorded in Balaghat. Madhya Pradesh has a total of 52 Districts.

On June 19, 2021, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (UMHA) identifies Balaghat as one among ‘25 Most Affected Districts’ from across eight States in the country, and Mandla was classified as a ‘District of Concern,’ along with another seven Districts in five States. Moreover, three Districts – Balaghat, Dindori and Mandla – were also among the 70 districts in 10 States that are covered under the Centre’s ‘Security Related Expenditure (SRE)’ scheme  which funds focused operations against the ultras.

On September 23, 2021, Madhya Pradesh Director General of Police (DGP) V.K. Johri, noted that Mandla District has been classified under the ‘District of Concern’ category because of the recent movement of the Maoist ‘Vistaar Dalam’ (Expansion Squad) from Chhattisgarh. He, however, asserted that “the state police have taken effective measures to prevent their movement in the state, including encounters.” Talking about the Dindori District, the DGP added that it had been included in the SRE scheme because the State administration wanted to fortify the Police Stations and security set up in the district to prevent the Maoists from making any inroads. Admitting that Maoist movement along the Madhya Pradesh-Chhattisgarh border areas was a matter of concern for the State, he asserted that the Police force was capable of handle the situation.

Meanwhile, according to a December 4, 2021, report, in a bid to combat the Maoists in an effective manner, the Madhya Pradesh Government has brought three Maoist-hit Districts – Balaghat, Dindori and Mandla – under a single administrative zone.

According to a January 19, 2022, report that the Madhya Pradesh Government is giving final touches to a plan to recruit an all-tribal anti-Naxal force in the State – the Special Protection Unit (SPU) – which, would have 500 personnel drawn exclusively from the Baiga, Gond and Kol tribal communities, living in the three LWE-affected Districts of Balaghat, Mandla and Dindori, in the State. It is learnt that the proposal is being examined by the Home Department and would soon be sent to the State Cabinet for approval. Speaking of the proposal, Inspector General of Police (IGP), Naxal Operations, of the State, Sajid Farid Shapoo, stated,

Local recruitment would prevent youth from these areas from being lured by Maoists to join their ranks. Moreover, from the experience of other Maoist-affected states, it has been found that local youth, with their knowledge of the terrain coupled with training, have proved to be effective fighters against Maoists.

Further, according to a February 23, 2022, report, the State Government is formulating a policy for relief, rehabilitation, and surrender of Naxalites that includes a provision for a one-year parole for jailed Maoists who provide information that helps fight rebels from a particular region. There is no parole provision in the Maoist surrender policies of LWE-hit States such as Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Jharkhand, and Maharashtra. A copy of the draft reads,

A first of its kind provision will give chance to convicted Maoist to get parole of one year by sharing information regarding top Maoist leaders, their movement, their diversification plans, sources of finance and arms that can help the forces to eliminate rebels from a particular area. The surrendered Maoists will get ₹5 lakh [INR 500,000] or money equivalent to reward on their arrest, whichever is higher, and also ₹6,000 [INR 6,000] monthly for 36 months for professional training to restart their lives. Unmarried Maoists will get ₹25,000 [INR 25,000] for weddings. They will get health insurance under Ayushman Bharat Scheme, a house under Pradhan Mantri Awas Scheme, and a ration under food security scheme.

Moreover, surrendered Maoists can also be inducted into the intelligence wing of the State Police for the posts of constable, if they share some important information related to Maoists or help the Police arrest or eliminate them.

However, the Madhya Pradesh Police continues to face critical gaps in capacities and deployment. According to the latest Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPR&D) data, as on January 1, 2020, Madhya Pradesh had 120.02 Police personnel per 100,000 population, significantly below the inadequate national average of 155.78. More worryingly, the Police/Area Ratio (number of policemen per 100 square kilometres) was just 32.28, as against the national average of 63.63. Both the State and national averages on the Police/Area ratio were well below the sanctioned strength, at 42.49 and 79.80, respectively. Worryingly, the sanctioned strength for the States’ Police was 130,984, while just 99,496 personnel were in position, creating a deficit of 24.03 per cent. In addition, the sanctioned strength of the apex Indian Police Service (IPS) Officers in the State was 305, but just 261 officers were in position, a deficit of 14.42 per cent, considerably weakening the executive supervision of the Force.

The Madhya Pradesh Government has sought the deployment of an additional six companies of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) in Balaghat and Mandla Districts. Currently,one CRPF battalion is deployed for anti-Naxal Operations in the State.

The increase in overall activities of Maoists through 2021 is a worrying indicator. This is despite the killing of the ‘central committee’ member and ‘secretary’ of the CPI-Maoist ‘Maharashtra State Committee’, Deepak Teltumbde aka Jeeva, in a major assault on November 13, 2021, in the forests of Mardintola in Gyarapatti area under Korchi Tehsil (revenue unit) in Gadchiroli District of Maharashtra. Teltumbde was tasked with the expansion and strengthening of cadres in the Madhya Pradesh-Maharashtra-Chhattisgarh (MMC) zone, and his death is likely to affect Maoist growth in Madhya Pradesh. Nevertheless, the Governments (Central and State) and the security establishment would need to sustain pressure on the Maoists, as their efforts for expansion are likely to continue.

*Deepak Kumar Nayak
Research Associate, Institute for Conflict Management

SATP

SATP, or the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP) publishes the South Asia Intelligence Review, and is a product of The Institute for Conflict Management, a non-Profit Society set up in 1997 in New Delhi, and which is committed to the continuous evaluation and resolution of problems of internal security in South Asia. The Institute was set up on the initiative of, and is presently headed by, its President, Mr. K.P.S. Gill, IPS (Retd).

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