by Revendra Tirumalsety
Left Wing Extremism in Andhra Pradesh
All the districts in Andhra Pradesh are Maoist affected . There is ample evidence that proves that Naxalites penetrated into the Telangana movement. Maoist sympathisers are already part of the political system in Telangana enjoying sympathy and public support. KCR, the supremo of TRS promised to implement Maoist Agenda after the formation of Telangana state.
The Planning Commission’s report has mentioned that in Andhra Pradesh, Maoists (Peoples War Group) spread across 15 districts with a history of targeting public representatives, police officers and police posts. They generate substantial funds through contractors, landlords and business houses and block the state’s development programs.
With 7 of 12, highly Left Wing Extremism affected districts in Seemandhra, the Maoists have tremendous opportunity to destabilise the newly formed state. Raging angst in Seemandhra against the State bifurcation and the ruling party provides Maoists an opportunity to garner public support in the region.
Inter-state border vulnerabilities
Maoists prevalence is more in Dandakaranya region, which spreads over the border districts of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Odisha and Andhra Pradesh. Police at Andhra-Chattisgarh border are struggling to counter the tactics used by the Maoists. Khammam, Nalgonda, Mahabubnagar– the highly affected Maoist districts in Telangana share a border with East Godavari, West Godavari, Krishna, Guntur, Prakasham and Kurnool districts of Seemandhra. Additionally, three Telangana districts (Adilabad, Karimnagar, Khammam) and five Northern Andhra districts (West Godavari, East Godavari, Vishakapatnam, Vizianagaram, Srikakulam) fall under Dandakaranya sharing borders with Maharshtra, Chattisgarh and Odisha.
The border regions are conducive for Maoists to employ Guerrilla Warfare, which further complicates the challenge to the states. Dr Ajai Sahni, an expert on counter terrorism states that the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh would be the last hope that the Maoists might be nursing for their revival in the state. He goes on to say that it was unlikely that it would benefit the Naxalites, despite lending their support to the Telangana movement.
However, the situation on the ground is different. Both the states are vulnerable during the process of bifurcation and will be operating under different political climates. This sets a platform for Naxals to expand and exploit every opportunity to destabilise the establishment. Given their fluency in the regional language and their established network, Maoists have an edge to penetrate and strengthen their presence. Oncethey cement their position, their traditional attacks on development activities by the government are likely continue.
Keeping aside the speculation on the activities that could be carried out by Maoists in Telangana and residual Andhra, there are three questions that arise-
One, does a Naxal sympathetic government in Telangana share a common objective to eliminate or minimize the threats posed by the Naxals?
Two, does such a government share intelligence and cooperate with the government in Seemandhra to tackle the security threats posed by the Naxals?
Three, does it share the facilities and infrastructure in the Hyderabad Police Academy, with a police department on Seemandhra?
The cabinet note on creating a new state of Telangana by bifurcating Andhra Pradesh has no mention of measures to address the internal security challenges during the process of bifurcation. Potential Maoists threats loom over the newly formed Telangana and residual Andhra Pradesh states. It is expected from the Union and the state governments, that steps are taken to design and reconfigure the internal security architecture; train and equip both the state polices to tackle the maoist threat; and establish cooperation between police departments of both the regions.
The Maoist threat in these regions is here to stay and its longevity depends on the cooperation between the authorities of Telangana and Seemandhra. The newly formed states should be self sufficient with security infrastructure and preparation to tackle the Maoists rather than to seek the Union government’s help every time.
Revendra Tirumalsety is a Bangalore based student of public policy.