Approval for upgradation of 2G mobile sites to 4G at security sites in LWE areas
11th May, 2022
The Union Cabinet has approved a Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) project for upgrading 2G mobile services to 4G at security sites in Left-Wing Extremism (LWE) hit areas.
- The Naxal insurgency or Left-Wing Extremism(LWE) originated in a 1967 uprising in Naxalbari(West Bengal) under the leadership of Charu Majumdar, by the Communist Party of India (Marxist).
- They are the group of people who believe in the far-left radical communist's political theory derived from the teachings of the Chinese political leader Mao Zedong.
- The most prominent among the groups that have mushroomed in recent years are the People’s War Group (PWG) and the Marxist Communist Centre (MCC).
- Left- Wing Extremism is concentrated in Eastern India, particularly an area known as the Red Corridor spread across the states of Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Jharkhand, Bihar, and Andhra Pradesh.
How will upgradation to from 2G mobile sites to 4G help in tackling LWE?
- Intelligence inputs: The upgradation will fulfil the communication needs of the security personnel deployed in LWE affected areas. Thus, resulting in better and real-time intelligence sharing.
- Connectivity: It will enable better internet and data services in these areas fulfilling the government’s goal of providing mobile connectivity in rural areas.
- Service Delivery: In addition, delivery of various e-governance services, banking services, tele-medicine, tele-education etc. through mobile broadband will be possible.
What is Left- Wing Extremism?
- LWE organizations are the groups that try to bring change through violent revolution. They are against democratic institutions and use violence to subvert the democratic processes at the ground level.
- These groups prevent the developmental processesin the least developed regions of the country and try to misguide the people by keeping them ignorant of current happenings.
What are the Left-wing affected states in India?
- As many as nine Indian states are bearing the brunt of Left- Wing Extremism.
- Of these, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, and Chhattisgarh are the worst-affected while Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal are partially affected.
- Andhra Pradesh and Bihar remain the hotbed of Peoples’ War Group and MarxistCommunist Centre operations.
Trend in Left Wing Extremism
- The geographical influence of Maoists has contracted to only 41 districts in the country, which is a sharp reduction from 96 such districts in 10 States in 2010.
- LWE incidents have also reduced from 2,258 in 2009 to 349 incidents till August 2021.
What are the major causes behind the sustenance of Left Wing Extremism in India?
- Tribal discontent: The Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 deprives tribals of the authority to use forest produce.
- Displacement: There has been a huge displacement of the tribal population in the LWE-affected states due to development projects, mining operations, and other reasons.
- Poverty: A huge chunk of the tribal population lives below the poverty line. They are also devoid of basic education and health facilities. Thus, Maoists are easily able to persuade them by offering to take up monetary incentives and a better future.
- Absence Of Strong Technical Intelligence: There is poor technical intelligence when it comes to tackling LWE For instance, some villages are not yet connected properly with any communication network which hinders action against LWE.
- Poor Governance: It is seen that even after the police take hold of a region, the administration fails to provide essential services to the people of that region.
- Police Atrocities: Tribals are sometimes harassed by the security forces in the mistaken belief that they may be Maoists. Such instances create hatred against security forces and boost recruitment in Maoist camps.
- Ideological Boost: Mao was able to oust the Chinese government and establish communism in China. To date, Communists are ruling the country, which gives a strong ideological boost to Maoist movements across the world.
- Support from other actors: They are connected to various internal and external insurgent groups that provide weapons, shelter, and finance. For instance, as per a few reports, CPI Maoists may have links with foreign Maoist organizations in the Philippines, Turkey, etc.
What are the impacts of rising Left-Wing Extremism in India?
- Hampering Democracy: They threaten the locals before the conduct of elections and prevent them from voting. It violates the principle of participative democracy.
- Infrastructural Damage: They destroy the roads, transport system, and government resources. Thereby they create hindrance in governance and last-mile connectivity.
- Illegal Activities: They resort to extortion, abduction of important personalities like Politicians, bureaucrats, police, etc. They are also engaged in drug trafficking cartels.
- Undermines Credibility of Government: The survival of LWE shows a failure of governance thereby eroding the faith of masses in governance set up and impacting the unity of the nation.
- Isolating Tribal Villages: These extremist movements have disconnected several tribal villages from the national mainstream.
- Security threats: Extremism causes threats to the security of the nation and assets of the country. It threatens the unity and diversity of the nation. Radicalization of youth poses a threat to internal security. It has impacted the development of the affected region leading to many people still living in poverty.
Steps taken to contain Left Wing Extremism in India
- Establishing LWE Division: A dedicated left-wing extremism division was established in 2006 under the Ministry of Home Affairs. It aimed to effectively address the LWE insurgency
- Using UAPA: CPI (Maoist) Party is designated as a terrorist organization under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967. This gives the forces greater power and autonomy to deal with Maoists.
- National Policy and Action Plan:to address the LWE problem has been put in place that envisages a multi-pronged strategy involving
- Security-related measures: Providing Central Armed Police Forces battalions, training, funds for modernization of State police forces, equipment & arms, sharing of intelligence, etc.
- Security Related Expenditure (SRE) Scheme: Under the scheme, the Central Government reimburses any expenditure related to LWE affected areas to the State Governments.
- Developmental interventions: construction of roads, strengthening of communications network, installation of mobile towers, improving the network of banks, post offices, health and education facilities, etc.
- Operation ‘SAMADHAN’: is the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA)’s initiative to deal with the Naxal problem. The acronym SAMADHAN stands for Smart leadership, Aggressive strategy, Motivation and training, Actionable Intelligence, Dashboard Based KPIs (key performance indicators) and KRAs (key result areas), harnessing technology, action plan for each theater, and No access to financing.
- Greyhounds: It was raised in 1989 as an elite anti-naxal force in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
- Aspirational District Program: Monitoring of Aspirational districts in 35 LWE affected districts.
- Media Plan: Activities like Tribal Youth Exchange programs are organized and radio jingles, documentaries, pamphlet distribution, etc. are being conducted.
- Schemes & Policies: Various schemes like Roshni have been used to improve skill development.
- Universal Service Obligation Fund supported the Scheme of Mobile Services to increase mobile connectivity.
- Effective implementation of provisions of PESA, 1996 on priority.
- Surrender and Rehabilitation policy for Naxalites in affected areas.
- Facilities of residential schools to children – (e.g. ChooloAasman, Pota Cabins, NanheParinde) as well as focus on sports infrastructure.
- National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme (NREGA) is being implemented in 330 districts affected by Naxalism for demand-driven wage employment.
Issues in Government Measures:
- Intelligence inputs:The traditional method of gathering intelligence through police receivers placed on hills is not delivering optimum results. The recent April attack exposed this lacuna as Maoists deliberately gave false information over it.
- Large troop operations: It is believed that larger forces give better protection but the recent attack exposed their vulnerability. The 1000 personnel movement wasn’t able to manoeuvre secretly and hence exposed themselves to the Maoists.
- Trust Deficit: The common masses don’t trust the forces/administrative authorities due to varied cultures and external appearance. This automatically reduces the impact of tribal-friendly measures.
- Lacunas in Protecting State Informers: The people who give information to security forces are often tortured and killed by Maoists. The state has not done enough to protect them.
- Approach in Tackling: More emphasis is placed on looking at LWE as a security problem. However, in reality, it is more of a socio-economic and political issue.
- Lack of Conviction: Some local politicians covertly support the conduct of Naxals that impairs the intensity of anti LWE operations.
- Lack of coordination: among the states andbetween State police and Central forces results in security voids which are exploited by the Naxals.
- Lack of coordination Inadequate use of Technology: The use of drones, ground sensors, smart guns, AI, etc. has been inadequate in Naxal areas.
Suggestions to tackle Left Wing Extremism
- Peace Agreements:Government of India and the Maoists should try to sign Peace agreements that would be a win-win situation for all. In this regard, learnings from Mizo Accord can be taken that have delivered desired results.
- Development Initiatives:Ensure all-around development of the Naxal-affected. It would involve strengthening the rights of local communities, improving governance, and augmenting public perception management.
- Bridging Trust Deficit:employ more local people in the administrative process which can act as a bridge to curtail the trust deficit. Further support of civil society can be taken for awarding tribals.
- Eg: A peace march was organized in March 2021 where about 150 tribals from Chhattisgarh, Odisha, and Telangana participated under the slogan of ‘Bastarmaangehinsa se Azadi’.
- Force Rationalisation: Forces should be used in small groups for maintaining greater efficiency. For instance, one of the most successful operations (the Greyhounds) involved the use of small teams that operate on solid human intelligence.
- Policy Measures: Policy measures that provide indirect benefits should be implemented with due care. For instance, effective implementation of the Forest Rights Act can ensure better control of local communities over Minor Forest Produce. This can reduce their attraction towards LWE.
Though the country has made significant success in containing Naxalism, continued efforts and focus are needed in eliminating the menace. The strategy of the central and the state governments that use ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ approaches simultaneously will go a long way in solving this problem.
Q1. Technology intervention can not only help in tackling security challenges related to Left Wing Extremism (LWE) but can also help in socio-economic development of the affected regions. Examine.
Q2. Discuss the threat of Left Wing Extremism (LWE) to India. Briefly explain the Government of India’s approach to counter the challenges posed by LWE.