From being the most dangerous threat to national security in 2006, Left Wing Extremism has been contained over the past one and a half decade to around 30 districts which are impacted by violence while 70 require to be nurtured for elimination of influence of the Naxals or Maoists which fall under the overall rubric of Communist Party of India (Maoist) which is a banned organization under the UAPA.
Union Home Minister Mr Amit Shah declared that the country will be Naxalism free before the 2024 general elections. This appears to be an ambitious target. Nevertheless the Ministry of Home Affairs has a well defined plan to counter LWE which includes clearance of extremist affected areas in the tribal and forested belt of central India, hold and establish governance and development.
Apart from saturation operations, alternate models have been employed such as building trust with the local tribal and providing them means of livelihood which has been adopted in Chhattisgarh. Surrender and rehabilitation is another arm of the overall counter Naxal strategy.
Nevertheless security forces have launched intense operations in Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand in to achieve the objective outlined by the Home Minister and this campaign will be extended in the coming dry season at least till the monsoons in July.
Risk List 2023
Given this backdrop in 2023, the overall risk in the Naxal affected districts of Central India will remain under control, however elimination or rooting out is unlikely given the geographic spread, the current state of violence and “military,” capability of the so called People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army [PLGA]. The top leadership of the Communist Party of India (Maoists) is seen to be unable to lead from the front, however some middle level leaders such as Hidima in Chhattisgarh have emerged who continue to provide tactical direction to the cadres.
While the Naxal influence and violence has declined in security dominant areas, they have attempted to expand in others such as Madhya Pradesh while have sporadic presence in the triangular forested belt in the south Tami Nadu-Kerala and Karnataka which the state police has been able to contain.
The Maoists are expected to employ the IED as the most preferred tool while they retain the capability of assaults with a recent incident in Chhattisgarh where they have reported to have fired at helicopters landing troops in a jungle zone.
The critical districts in Central India which could be impacted state wise based on the level of violence and activity in 2023 and prior are as given below-
Andhra Pradesh- Visakhapatnam or Vizag Agency
Bihar - Aurangabad, Gaya, Jamui, Kaimur, Lakhisarai
Chhattisgarh - Bastar, Bijapur, Dantewada, Dhamtari, Gariyaband, Kanker, Kondagaon, Narayanpur, Sukma
Jharkhand - East Singhbhum, Garhwa, Giridih, Gumla, Khunti, Latehar, Lohardaga, Palamu, Saraikela-Kharaswan, West Singhbhum.
Madhya Pradesh- Balaghat, Mandla, Dindori.
Maharashtra- Gadchiroli, Gondia.
Odisha - Bargarh, Koraput, Malkangiri, Nuapada, Rayagada.
Telangana - Bhadradri-Kothagudem, Jayashankar-Bhupalpally
In many of these States criminal terrorism will prevail using extortion as a potent tool for targeting civilian contractors and mining establishments operating therein. In Bihar and Jharkhand this is expected to be a major concern where railway infrastructure would also be targeted.
As state elections are due in Chhattisgarh this year some attempts to disrupt the same can
be anticipated as well as in the Northern districts of Telangana.
On the whole, the situation will remain under control while an attempt to trigger a major incident by the Naxals to sustain their relevance in the overall landscape should remain a concern.