Friday, July 31, 2009

Naxalites returneth

Despite the successes of the security forces earlier this month in driving out the overt presence of the Naxalites from Lalgarh, the Naxalites have continued to harass security forces as well as representatives of West Bengal's ruling Communist Party (Marxist). It would seem that the Naxalites are not quit ready to give up Lalgarh as their first "liberated zone."

In Goaltore, northeast of Lalgarh, a CPM leader was taken from his home and shot in a market place. In another incident, a CPM branch committee member in Salboni was abducted by Naxalites (The Telegraph). The Naxalites have also targeted police personnel in and around Lalgarh. At least three police personnel are missing (The Telegraph).

A police report (reported in the Telegraph) speculated that the Naxalites were targeting CPM leaders and supporters in order to prevent the revival of the area's "intelligence network." The report noted that after the Maoists established the "liberated zone," the police's intelligence network, which was based on information from the CPM, and its supporters "totally collapsed."

For their part, the Naxalites confirmed this report. One leader noted that the killings targeted people "who had been passing information about us to the police." While another noted that the group had learned from its past mistakes; after recruiting from the villages, the new recruits would be reported by the CPM informants, thus the kilings were a way of protecting their new manpower.

The CPM is going to be having an increasingly more difficult time in convincing its supporters and leaders to return to the area. However without their information network, security offensives against the Naxalites will become costly and probably achieve very little.

That the Naxalites are still able to recruit out of the area should be a warning sign to the West Bengal government. Although equitable development cannot be totally ensured until the security situation improves, it is necessary for the CPM and local administrators to prove to the local populace that they do have their best interests at heart.

The security forces will need to identify a new way of collecting the information they require, hopefully without further demoralizing the local people and the CPM. Cultivating new informants, independent of the ruling CPM, would be the easiest and quickest route. Moreover, the employment of the Cobras in Jharkand (the Telegraph) should keep the Naxalites off balance, for the time being.

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