Naxals on the War Path

The Naxalite danger, which has been growing in several Indian states, is assuming very serious proportions.

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The Naxalite danger, which has been growing in several Indian states, is assuming very serious proportions. The recent massive attack in Nayagarh in Orissa on February 15th night, the biggest in that state, has revealed the clout which this dangerous group has achieved. It is surprising that the Naxals have become so strong that they struck just 90 kms from capital Bhuwaneshwar. About 600 Naxals, including 100 women, started the daring attack after 10 o’clock in night and continued their virtual seize for about four hours. It appears that the attackers had fully planned the minutest details and it is suspected that they had smuggled scores of their cadres in Nayagarh town in the daytime itself. They confined the Superintendent of Police Mr. Rajesh Kumar to his house, blocked all roads and entry points to the town, hijacked a bus, looted two armouries and took away more than 1000 weapons, including AK47s, light machine guns and rifles and killed 13 police personnel and two civilians. These weapons can enable the militants to fight a full fledged war. This attack has posed a grave challenge to the shell-shocked Orissa police which is already short of personnel and whose members did not give a good account of their valour and some of whom preferred to run away. The question is: Are we losing our war against Naxal violence?

More distressing are the details of inhuman and brutal atrocities the attackers committed. They mercilessly killed the policemen who were hiding behind walls and were unable to offer any resistance as they were overpowered. They burnt one policeman alive and shot and castrated another person. Yet another guard was caught and hacked to pieces. These ghastly incidents show the brutal side of Naxal militants. Yet our media hesitates to call them terrorists. It appears that this derogatory term has been reserved only for people who bear Muslim names. After this incident we can understand why our Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called the Naxalites the single most danger the country is facing.

The district administration of Nayagarh and the intelligence apparatus are to be squarely blamed for this mayhem as they were caught napping. The question is: Why in the wake of ever-growing Naxal threat and regrouping of Andhra Pradesh Naxals in jungles of Madhya Pradesh and Orissa the State and district administration was so slack? Why it did not gather enough intelligence to pre-empt and thwart the attack? It is a matter of some satisfaction that the massive attack has awakened the State and Central Governments to the seriousness of the threat. The Central Government has assured all help and the State Government has ordered combing operation on a large scale.

Let us hope that our Government will do its best to combat growing Naxalite danger and stem it before it engulfs other parts of the country. To do this concerted efforts, minute planning, and strengthening of police and paramilitary forces is essential. At the same time the misguided youths who have joined Naxal ranks should be approached and weaned away from this dangerous thinking. Besides this economic development plans should be chalked out for under-developed areas of Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand – the states which are mainly facing the Naxalite threat.