By Revendra T
“Does creation of new states result in more violence due to Left Wing Extremism?”
This is a question that is constantly bothering the politicians, authorities and civilians of both the regions of Andhra Pradesh. Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy made a press statement and also a presentation before Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress President Sonia Gandhi, stating that the creation of Telangana would aggravate Naxalism in the region. Andhra Pradesh’s Chief Whip Gandra Venkataramana Reddy and other public representatives belonging to Telangana retorted back, saying that Naxalism was not linked to small states.
Not giving in to the arguments based on regional biases, the debate should be approached with evidence. 10 out of 24 districts in Jharkhand and 8 out of 27 districts in Chattisgarh are worst affected by Left Wing Extremism. 15 of 24 districts in Jharkhand and 10 of 27 districts in Chattisgarh reported incidents of violence. When Jharkhand was formed, there was a popular belief that Maoist violence would decline. However, the violence escalated when Naxals exploited the vulnerabilities raised due to poor coordination between security agencies of Bihar and Jharkhand, committed crimes and slipped into the borders of other states.
Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh, the most recently formed states of India, show the highest fatalities due to incidents of Maoist violence. A trend in the rise and the fall of Maoist violence can be observed. The newly formed states are expected to witness escalation in Naxal violence. While the data shows that Left Wing Extremism is declining in 2013, it can be expected that Maoists are waiting for an opportunity to trouble the establishment. Maoists have reportedly raised 2 battalions, one in Jharkhand and one at the Odisha-Chhattisgarh border. Additionally, the Chhattisgarh police recovered advanced weaponries from Maoist hide outs.
The strategies adopted by Maoists are getting tougher to handle. The government of India is considering to use Indian Air Force to support operations in Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand.
Police Force Shortage
By July-2013, 2,50,000 head constables and constables, 50,000 Inspectors and Sub-Inspectors, 1000 Additional Superintendents of Police and Deputy SPs positions were vacant in 9 Left Wing Extremism affected states– Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. Chhattisgarh (13,000) and Jharkhand (10,000) have a shortage of 23,000 in the police force where as Andhra Pradesh has a shortage of 30,000. This shortage of police force will make the region more vulnerable to exploitation by the Maoists .
The security agencies are concerned about Maoist threat after the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh and Home Minister Shinde expressed confidence in wiping out Naxal activities in Telangana. As the UPA is firm on creating Telangana, bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh should not provide Maoists with an opportunity to revive their presence in the region and the concerns related to internal security should be fully addressed.
Revendra T is a Bangalore based student of public policy.