Saturday, April 21, 2012



The Maoists have been increasingly resorting to abduction as one of their tactics for cowing down the State and society and for demonstrating their ability to enforce their will on the State.

2. The recent incidents of abduction of two Italian nationals and a member of the legislative Assembly of Odisha to force the State---unfortunately successfully--- to concede their demands for the release of some arrested Maoists have been followed by the abduction of Alex Paul Menon, the32-year-old Collector of Sukma District in Chattisgarh, on April 21,2002.

3.Citing Ram Nivas, Additional Director of Police in charge of Naxal operations in the State, media reports have stated that a group of 20 Maoists killed the two personal security officers of the Collector and abducted him while he was having a meeting with some villagers in the Majhipara village of the District. The Collector had reportedly gone to the village on a motorcycle as part of a Government-initiated campaign to wean the villagers away from the Maoists. S.K.Vaidya, a Sub-Divisional Magistrate, who had accompanied the Collector, was not abducted.

4. The young Collector, like other officers of different services serving in the areas affected by the Maoist insurgency in different States of India, deserves the highest praise from the citizens of this country for his personal courage and devotion to public service. Unmindful of the dangers faced by him, Menon had kept up his village touring in order to interact with the people and address their grievances against the State. It is the courage and devotion of officers like Menon which gives us hope that we will ultimately prevail over the Maoists despite the gloomy situation that prevails at present. It is important to underline this before discussing the options available to the State in dealing with the use of repeated abductions as a tactic by the Maoists.

5. Denying success to rural insurgents operating from forests who indulge in such tactics is always much more difficult than denying success to urban terrorists who operate from urban hideouts. Collection of preventive and operational human intelligence is more difficult in  rural areas ---particularly with a heavy forest cover---than in an urban area. Technical intelligence is equally difficult to come by since rural insurgents do not use modern means of communication like the urban terrorists do.

6. Confronted with a situation of almost zero intelligence regarding the specific plans of the Maoists, the only preventive option is a heavy security cover for touring officers and political leaders and a saturated security presence in the areas worst affected by the insurgency. It is not an uncharitable criticism of the young officer to state that one was surprised that Menon ventured into an area reportedly heavily affected by the insurgency with a very thin security cover. One is not certain whether Menon was accompanied by a police contingent in addition to his two personal security officers. Apparently not, because otherwise, there might have been an encounter between the police contingent and the Maoists who came to abduct him.

7. It is important for our officers and political leaders to keep travelling in those areas without letting themselves be cowed down by the insurgents. At the same time, they should ensure that they do not neglect the importance of a heavy security cover in the form of personal security officers and a protection contingent which would provide area protection.

8.Touring officers and political leaders probably avoid a heavy protection contingent as the presence of a large number of policemen in their entourage might unnerve the villagers and defeat the purpose of their touring for interaction with the people. But this cannot be helped. There is no point in venturing out into such areas without a satisfactory security cover.

9. The Maoists have also been abducting not only public servants, but also innocent civilians as one saw in the case of the two Italian tourists. It would become difficult for the State to provide dedicated protection to all civilians who have to travel in the areas under the control of the Maoists. All that the State can do is to brief them periodically on the dangers that they might face and what precautions they should take.

10. The Maoists have been using two tactical weapons effectively in their attempts to intimidate public servants and discourage them from touring--- the use of road mines and abduction. We still do not seem to have an effective answer to deal with the use of landmines by them. This calls for action on various planes such as preventing the flow of explosive material and mines into the hands of the Maoists and effective mine-clearing operations in the areas where the Maoists are active.

11. To ensure that normal village administration and village touring for interactions with the villagers is not affected by the intimidatory  tactics of the Maoists, we should provide helicopters to all Districts in the areas affected by the insurgency.

12. There is no satisfactory answer to the question as to how to deal with an abduction in a rural or forest area. The basic principle is never concede the demands of the insurgents to secure the release of the abducted persons. Once a person is abducted, various pressures start operating on the political leadership and the administration----from the relatives, sections of the political class itself, human rights activists etc. It becomes difficult for the political leadership to resist these pressures and stick doggedly to the principle of not conceding the demands of the insurgents, come what may.

13. Dealing with abductions is partly a game of patience, partly a psychological game and partly a game of calculated risks. Patient negotiations with those involved in the abduction are necessary to give the police and the intelligence agencies time  to collect intelligence and to the special intervention forces to prepare themselves for a possible rescue operation. The psychological game involves giving the abductors cause for hope that the State may concede their demands while sticking to the principle of not doing so The game of calculated risks is about undertaking a rescue operation if there are reasonable chances of success.

14.The difficulties faced by our political leadership in dealing with an abduction in a rural or forest areas arises from two factors--- the lack of precise intelligence as to where the abductors have kept their captive and the absence of a specially trained force for interventions in the rural and forest areas. The National Security Guards is more a special intervention force for urban than for rural areas or forests. The time has come for us to think in terms of a special intervention force for rural areas and forests.
15. Ultimately, the decision as to what the State has to do has to be taken by the political leaders and professionals jointly. There will always be political and public criticism of their final decision. If they concede the demands of the abductors they will be accused of being soft. If they stand firm and the victim is killed by the abductors they will be accused of being heartless and incompetent. It is an occupational hazard for a public servant having to deal with terrorism or insurgency. He should act according to his best judgement unmindful of the brickbats that might follow.( 22-4-12)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: Twitter : @SORBONNE75 )


garry said...

Sir, please shade more light on how to root out the Maoists completely .

ambi said...

its time for what rebeiro sir had said 'bullet for bullet'. if maoist can get our own, so can we. jusr send maoist a mess. if something happens to alex, something ll happen to vinayak sen. maoist ll fall in line.

பத்மநாபன் said...

I think Congress government failed in all the front. Print and Visual medias are projecting only the abduction and killings of Maoist. We are not ready to talk about their core demands. Particularly most of the Maoist affected areas are rich in natural resources. But still these regions are struggling with poverty.

Government should not force the people to accept their decision. Manmohan Singh government is a total failure on handling this situation. Their wrong decision on Indian economy is creating more Maoist/insurgent movements. Common peoples are struggling to survive in India. We should not scale our economy based on IT company's building, multistory apartments, foreign restaurants and urbanization of Agricultural Lands.

Only 20% peoples are happy and enjoying the development in India during this Congress rule. If you look and compare the Maoist affected states from past ten years... Maoist/insurgent movements are sharply increasing in India.

To solve this issue, government should stop the industrialization of Maoist affected area and work on development activity in these region in Agriculture sector, Education, road access, clean water, healthcare to all the people. Otherwise this will spread fast in coming days to other states.

joydeep ghosh said...

@Raman sir

these Maoist/naxal are nothing but criminals, they killed 76 CRPF personnel by trapping them and say they are fighting for right and just cause, thats a big BS.

The contnuing operation by security forces is causing them trouble and to get relief the pressure they are resorting to kidnapping as they kjnow thje government will capitulate to their demands or atleast give them time to reorganize.

First the BJD MLA, then Chattisgarh collector and a dozen innocent villages in Maharastra and want operations to be stopped

Government must not capitulate, but it does always

Dont know what happened to the stated policy of 'No Negotiation with Hostae Takers'

Expect some reply


Joydeep Ghosh

joydeep ghosh said...

sorry!!! previous comment missed few words

@Raman sir

these Maoist/naxal are nothing but criminals, they killed 76 CRPF personnel by trapping them and say they are fighting for right and just cause, thats a big BS.

The contnuing operation by security forces is causing them trouble and to get relief the pressure they are resorting to kidnapping as they know the government will capitulate to their demands or atleast give them time to reorganize.

First the BJD MLA, then Chattisgarh collector and now a dozen innocent villagers in Maharastra and want operations to be stopped

Government must not capitulate to terrorist, but it does always

Dont know what happened to the stated policy of 'No Negotiation with Hostae Takers'

Expect some reply


Joydeep Ghosh

Icarus Invictus said...

Naxalite movement did not just start one day or yesterday, this wound has been festering for decades.

The same people who in response to this blog as asking to root our this movement, neither have a clue about history and struggles of this movement. Most do not understand the difference between cross border terrorist and a naxalite. And I don’t blame them for not being able to make this distinction. Partly because how media has changed the concept of news to sensationalism. We only hear one side of the story and one face of the coin. These are our own people who have been victimized for generations by our archaic system and concept of government. We are only shown the side of India running at breakneck speed towards industrialization and prosperity, while forgetting her poorest of the poor.

I am no left wing lunatic, I do condone the violence and innocent lives lost, but on the other side justifiable. How many of us went out and wrote a response when the news was posted on many a news portals of a Adivasi Girls being made to dance naked in Andaman and Nicobar for food in front of tourists (NDTV, Jan 11, 2012).

It’s easy to pass judgment with no facts and a full belly sitting in the comforts of your own house.

Mr. Raman, I agree this problem needs to be dealt with sternly, but with a human face. These are our own people, who we have forgotten. Old ways of governance and reaching out need to change, it way too late for that approach. I do understand the brevity of young men and women who work on the front lines, but is our system training them to handle situations like that. Are our policies implemented such that they are reaching the poor. I feel in all our hullaballoo we forget it. Unless fundamental changes are made to our approach and how we view this as an opportunity to connect with our own people challenges will remain.

Like the African proverb, speak softly, but carry a big stick.

ambi said...

@ icarus invictus
Either of two! Either u r mislead person, or u r deliberately misleading others. u oldies think that we youngsters don’t see anything beyond naukri and chokri. We can see things and analyse them the way ur older generation cannot even think. As it is said in management ‘not your age but the maximum hits that u give thats what really matters today’.

Why u think we don’t understand maoist problem? The most dangerous part of ur comment is that u still consider maoist as our own. Ít shows ur understanding of the problems. Whenever they suspect someone as police informers, they tie his hands behind and slit his throat. Poor soul dies the most painful death. They take out the skin of captives or chop off his private parts. And all this not out of anger but a deliberate action to terrorise local population. Tell me who does this to his own? Will u do it to your own? Kindly enlighten!

Yes it was a mistake. We left our brothers at the mercy of these wolfs for decades. They give a shit to adivasis or their rights. Indian jungles keep immense natural wealth which they don’t to share with others. They want all the businesses to deal with them directly. Its just a powerplay between centre n the maoist. Maoists don’t want to lose that revenue. probably u don’t know to what extent they have terrorised the local populace.

U oldies were not able to solve any problems n just passed them on to the next generation. Thats where ur generations expertise lie. Luckily our generation sees the problem as they r n ll be able to solve them.