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Destroy Maoism

Destroy Maoism

Author: Editorial
Publication: The Pioneer
Date: February 19, 2008

Use overwhelming force in this war

Friday night's daring raid by Maoists on armouries and police establishments in Orissa, which resulted in the death of at least 14 policemen and a civilian, comes as yet another grim reminder that far Left extremism remains, to quote the Prime Minister, the biggest threat to our internal security. What makes the latest outrage particularly worrisome is that it occurred at Nayagarh, a district headquarters town, which is a short distance from Bhubaneswar. It is equally of concern that the Maoists escaped with a huge cache of sophisticated arms and ammunition after looting the armoury. Meanwhile, the situation in Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand, apart from Bihar and Madhya Pradesh, also affected by Maoist terror, continues to worsen. Beginning with the stunning raid on Jehanabad Central Jail in Bihar, the Maoists have been stepping on the terror accelerator, striking with increasing ferocity at civilians and Government establishments. The manner in which they broke into Dantewada Jail in Chhattisgarh and freed Maoists being held there is an example. The attack on Nayagarh is part of the escalation of Maoist violence - the purpose is to cock a snook at authority and demonstrate to the masses the 'helplessness' of the police. But this time the response, to the credit of Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, has been different from that in the past. Instead of wringing his hands in frustration or indulging in a pointless blame-game by pointing fingers at the Centre, Mr Patnaik has acted with firm determination. The swiftness with which his administration has sealed all exit points to prevent the Maoists from escaping to Chhattisgarh and deployed security forces to hunt them down is admirable. If latest reports emanating from Orissa are to be believed - and there is no reason why they shouldn't be - the security forces have not been entirely unsuccessful: While at least a score of Maoists are believed to have been killed, nearly half the looted arms and ammunition have been recovered. Yes, the security forces have suffered casualties, too, but that is inevitable if the war against far Left extremism has to be taken to its logical conclusion. Bullets must be met with bullets and the Maoists should be neutralised with the use of overwhelming force. To pursue any other path would not only be ill-advised, but disastrous for the affected States and the nation as a whole. In this context, it is encouraging to note that in Chhattisgarh, too, a crackdown has been launched, while Jharkhand and Bihar have decided to coordinate their anti-Maoist measures.

However, three points need to be addressed to make the anti-Maoist campaign effective. First, the Union Home Ministry must wake up from its deep slumber and pro-actively provide assistance to the State Governments by way of additional security forces, especially CRPF. Second, the State Governments should swiftly move to fill up vacancies in the police and the Special Operations Groups that have been set up for counter-insurgency operations. Third, intelligence gathering and sharing has to improve: At present, the State Governments are working in isolation; they should pool their resources and share information. Like fighting jihadi terrorism, battling Maoist extremism is an asymmetrical war in which the amorphous enemy has the upper hand. The only way to rob Maoists of their advantage is to gather, process and share quality intelligence - and unleash a savage assault on those who wield the gun to promote their blood-soaked ideology that has no place in a democracy.

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