Ranchi, May 19: The state may remove seven so-called splinter groups from the list of Left-wing extremists and treat persons involved with them as petty criminals in a move to distinguish them from those engaged in ideological warfare.
Signalling a radical departure from existing policy to realistically deal with the rebel menace, officiating chief secretary Sajal Chakraborty called Jharkhand’s Naxalism a “threat blown out of proportion” because criminal acts committed by splinter groups without ideological moorings simply inflated the number of violent incidents.
Only CPI(Maoist) will remain on the LWE list, while splinter groups TPC, PLFI, JPC, SJMM, SPM, RCC and JJMP may be dropped.
Chakraborty added a video-conference with DCs and SPs across 24 districts would be scheduled in a day or so to “denotify” seven splinter groups and treat related FIRs in the criminal and not Naxalite category.
“I had a meeting with Jharkhand police special branch this morning and analysed our state’s Naxalite scenario. We have decided to denotify about seven splinter groups from the LWE list, which means in case of arrests, they would be treated as criminals,” Chakraborty said at an unscheduled media briefing this evening.
It means members of splinter groups would not get benefits of the state government’s surrender policy for rebels. Nor would their activities be listed as LWE-sponsored incidents.
The influence of splinter groups not only opened up room for corruption in the execution of Jharkhand’s rebel surrender policy, it also gave the state a bad name, Chakraborty said.
In 2013, Union home ministry put Jharkhand on top of the list of worst LWE-hit states in the country with 383 incidents that comprised 33 per cent of 1,129 Naxalite events in India.
If violence perpetrated by splinter groups — extortion, arson, kidnap, murder and the like — are removed, the number would be far smaller, goes the chief secretary’s logic. “These are criminal activities without ideology. Thug groups need to be treated as criminals. Giving them the LWE tag makes them stronger and inflates our rebel-violence figures,” he said.
“Those who have studied the origin of Naxalite insurgency know it started out as an ideological war for the downtrodden. Development was the common plank for both government and Naxalites or Maoists,” Chakraborty added.
Over last few years, Jharkhand’s records suggest a drastic dip in CPI(Maoist) activities and a corresponding rise in violence committed by splinter groups, he said.
“For example, in 2011, CPI(Maoist) presence and activities was 59 per cent that reduced to 35 per cent last year. In contrast, PLFI grew from 15 per cent in 2011 to 37 per cent in 2013.”
Chakraborty said he would soon initiate talks with CPI(Maoist) cadres. “If they are fighting for development, we will assure it, but in return, they should not harm the innocent. But as far as splinter groups are concerned, you will soon see the results,” he said, adding the state would launch a massive offensive across Saryu in Latehar, Kolebira and Porahat.
In 2009-10, Jharkhand launched a surrender policy during then DGP Neyaz Ahmed’s tenure to bring Naxalites into the mainstream, promising cash, pension and money for building a home, education scholarship for children and so on. Its implementation earned flak from surrendered Naxalites time and again.
Chakraborty said milking the scheme had become a “business” in recent times.
“Yes, if you are a Maoist and want to surrender, you will get whatever benefits the government has fixed. But if you are not, government will simply treat you as a criminal,” he added.