Amit Shah push against ‘urban Maoists’
Union home minister Amit Shah on Friday asked the Central Reserve Police Force top brass to identify and crack down on “urban” and “overground” Maoist strategists across the country to counter and destroy the urban network of the rebels, sources in the paramilitary force said.
Shah, who visited the CRPF headquarters on Lodhi Road, also told the senior officials to launch an all-out offensive against underground Maoists.
“During his closed-door meeting with the top brass the home minister asked them to be more pro-active and work closely with state police forces in identifying urban Maoists. He said the paramount focus should be to launch coordinated operations with the help of state forces against the overground Maoist strategists and supporters,” a CRPF official told The Telegraph, but asked not to be named.
The CRPF is the country’s primary counter-Maoist force but also battles insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir and the Northeast.
This was Shah’s first visit to any force headquarters since he took charge of the home ministry in June this year. The minister reached the headquarters around 10.15am and left around 12.25pm after the closed-door meeting that lasted over an hour and a half.
Sources said CRPF director-general Rajeev Rai Bhatnagar briefed Shah about the deployment of the paramilitary force in Jammu and Kashmir and Maoist-affected areas.
“The top brass, including the DG, briefed him about the CRPF’s deployment in Jammu and Kashmir and apprised him of the operational details in the Maoist-infested area. Although he sounded impressed with our strategy in Maoist belts, he instructed us to be more pro-active in battling Naxalism,” another official said.
The minister, the official added, was given a PowerPoint presentation on Maoist pockets in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh and Bengal.
In August last year Maharashtra police, in a coordinated multi-city raid, had arrested five rights activists alleging that they had plotted with Maoists to “overthrow the government”.
The arrests had triggered outrage and condemnation across the country and many civil rights groups and lawyers had called the action a brutal attack on democratic rights.
On Friday the CRPF official quoted from an intelligence report and said several “Maoist front organisations operating under the guise of non-governmental (agencies) are active in urban areas and are providing support and leadership to underground rebels”.
“In the wake of the latest report, security agencies have been asked to launch a crackdown on the urban network of Maoist intellectual strategists and their supporters across the country,” the official said.
“The urban movement has become the main source for providing leadership following the ongoing all-out offensive against the rebels inside forests,” the official added. “The front organisations provide logistical support to the armed Maoist cadres in the jungles.”
The intelligence report has highlighted the presence of Maoist front organisations in cities like Calcutta, Delhi, Mumbai, Ranchi, Hyderabad, Thiruvananthapuram, Nagpur and Pune, the official said.
Sources said the Narendra Modi government was planning to raise a “special force” — on a par with the Greyhounds — to take on the rebels in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Bihar and Odisha.
The Greyhounds are a dedicated anti-Maoist force for Andhra Pradesh, where the Maoist movement suffered multiple setbacks before being forced to move into neighbouring Chhattisgarh and Odisha.
The special force will be entirely funded by the Centre.