Reinforcing the rule of law is paramount

From India Today:

That is because the silent abduction industry of the Maoists has been behind as many as 1,554 people being kidnapped by the rebels in the past four years. Every fifth such kidnapped person has been killed by the Maoists in their custody. Union home ministry figures show that 328 people were killed by the Maoists after they were abducted while the rest were released unharmed.

These damning figures collated by the home ministry show that the abduction industry is in fact three times the scale of the Maoists’ extortion business though the latter is a far more publicised activity. Compared to more than 1,500 kidnappings executed by the Maoists since 2008, there have been only 535 incidents of extortion by the rebels in the same period.

As many as 489 people have been kidnapped by the rebels from Chhattisgarh and 463 from Jharkhand in the past four years. In comparison, Orissa has seen only 137 such abductions since 2008.[IT]

There are two strands to abduction and kidnapping. The first is is to attract media attention for their cause and display their strength. Maoists abduct government officials, policemen and foreigners to seek release of imprisoned comrades or demand a temporary stop in security operations. Way back in 1987, the Maoists had abducted a group of IAS officers in the forest area in East Godavari district, Andhra Pradesh. These officers were set free in exchange for the Maoists detained at the Central Prison in Rajahmundry, a few days later. This phenomenon was again witnessed in Orissa last year, where district collector of Malkangiri, RV Krishna was kidnapped. He was released after Ganti Prasad, a senior Maoist leader was set free by the Orissa government. The recent case of abduction of Orissa MLA and two Italians in Orissa would also fall in this category.

However, it is the other category — of kidnapping — to earn money for the Maoists which should be more worrying. The larger number of kidnapping incidents in Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand add to the growing evidence of criminalisation of Maoist cadres. The Maoist groups continue to kidnap businessmen because it is a lucrative business. It is not merely a politician-Maoist-criminal nexus. In many cases, the local Maoists have morphed into criminals, and have now little to do with the core Maoist ideology.

Practitioners of counterinsurgency focus on the need to criminalise the insurgent as the main means of isolating him from the people. Even though the Maoists have already been criminalised in the public view in some areas, an ineffective police force and broken criminal justice system are constraining the states in defeating the Maoists. Reinforcement of the rule of law is paramount, which will happen once police is reformed and criminal justice system reinvigorated. No amount of development or security operations will deliver the final blow to the Maoists, unless the government reinforces the rule of law.

DISCLAIMER: This is an archived post from the Indian National Interest blogroll. Views expressed are those of the blogger's and do not represent The Takshashila Institution’s view.