Anti-naxal Strategy and Measures in India: Various Issues and Challenges
Various Issues and Challenges in the Anti-naxal Strategy and measures in India include Land reforms, empowerment of the grassroot organizations, transparency in land acquisition, employments, presence of efficient government machinery etc. They have been discussed below:
- Implementation of Land Reforms
- Empowering Grassroots Organizations
- Transparency in Land Acquisition
- Compulsory presence of administrative machinery
- Close Coordination between Military and Administration
- Infrastructure Development
- Protection of the Forest Rights of Tribals
- Effective Modernization of the Police
- Strategic Communication Campaign
Implementation of Land Reforms
The most critical component of the Anti-Naxal strategy is a committed, transparent and high priority implementation of land reforms measures. The tribal land alienation is an emotive issue exploited by the Naxals to build up their movement. Without a land reform programme, the landless tribals have no option but to believe in promises of Naxalism with the hope that justice would be done to them.
The biggest problem in land reforms is the lack of state governments will to implement the various recommendations of the land reforms commissions set up by them. The Union government should issue advisories to the state governments on taking immediate steps for bringing out land reforms. Though land reforms are a state subject, still the centre can play an advisory role. Although it may not be possible to take up implementation of land reforms in entire state at a time, yet it is possible to implement them district by district. The state government can also think of setting up of a permanent authority such as Land Reforms Implementation Commission.
Empowering Grassroots Organizations
Today, the governance and local administration has collapsed in many of the Naxal dominated areas. If the grassroots organizations such as Gram Sabhas and Panchayats are revived towards stamping the presence of government; it can slowly but surely build the primary line of defense against the naxalites by allowing the people of the region to develop a sense of participation and stake in the administration and development.
In this context, the Panchayat (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996 (PESA) is a progressive piece of legislation that recognises the competence of tribal communities to govern themselves. However, this act is yet to be implemented effectively. In most of states, Panchayats remain in mercy if the state government in matters of power and resources. The state governments need to ensure that the PESA act is implemented effectively to ensure the rights assigned to Gram Sabhas in matters of minor forest produce and minor minerals. The Panchayat institution need regular and adequate flow of resources needs. Moreover, to increase their influence, they should be given judicial powers in petty crimes and minor property disputes.
Transparency in Land Acquisition
The land acquisition has to be sensitive and careful in naxal / tribal areas. Much of the tribal anger against the state governments has been due to the way their land has been transferred to the private and public sector companies. The compensation to tribals’ remains shrouded in secrecy and the affected persons are forcefully displaced and deprived of their livelihood. Until recently, the consent of the Gram Sabhas, which is mandatory in the event of transfer of tribal land, was being overwritten by imposition of Land Acquisition Act of 1894, which allowed government to overtake land for public purpose. The recently enacted Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2012, which replaces the 1894 act promises for fair compensation to owners whose land is taken over, brings transparency to the process and lays down measures for rehabilitation of those displaced. The effective implementation of this act remains to be seen. Resettlement and rehabilitation process of the displaced people should remain transparent for, the displacement of the tribals has been a rallying point for the Maoists to gain support and recruit cadres among such aggrieved population.
Government should ensure round the year jobs for tribals of Naxal-affected areas under various centrally sponsored scheme. The lack of job opportunities among the tribal population has been taken advantage by the Naxalites to recruit cadres and mobilise people.
Compulsory presence of administrative machinery
The civil servants and police officials simply abstain from duties from the Naxal affected areas because of thier genuine fear of Naxals. This is a gruesome situation in most naxal affected areas. The need is for implementing required security provisions and additional incentives to make a presence of government in these areas. A minimum tenure of service in Naxal areas may be made compulsory.
Close Coordination between Military and Administration
In most cases, the failure of the administration to step into the Naxal freed area by Military increases the likelihood of return of the extremists. Many a times, the civil administration is unable to provide immediate relief to the tribal population and set up permanent mechanism in governance.
Inability of the civil administration to provide immediate relief to the tribal population as well set up permanent mechanisms of governance in recovered areas. Thus, as soon as an area is cleared by the security forces from the extremist menace, the district administration should promptly step in to start developmental actions within a pre-planned developmental plan with visible impacts. This requires a close coordination between the security forces and the district administration. This also requires a close coordination between para-military and the police forces. A unified command structure has been established to attain such objectives. In the similar way, a ‘Unified Development Command Structure’ can also be set up to increase balanced development at grassroots level.
Corruption, mafia-leaders-officer nexus, scandals, almost no prosecution etc. have painted a tardy picture of the Indian state. Indian state can not make presence in Naxal areas until and unless there is honest and transparent administration as well as a rule of law.
Building infrastructure at the grassroots level in the Naxal affected areas has to be a national priority. Improved connectivity is a pre-requisite for administration and security forces to reach in such areas. Naxal presence has been used as a pretext for non-implementation of the infrastructure and connectivity projects in these areas. The small contractors are easily scarred away by Maoists.
Protection of the Forest Rights of Tribals
The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 was expected to improve the lives of the poor indigenous tribes by recognising their right to inhabit the forests. However, the act has been poorly implemented. The tribals are still instilled with a fear of losing their lands. Proper education about their rights and proper implementation of the act has to be ensured so that the tribals get the legal rights over the land that they are residing.
Effective Modernization of the Police
Police and law and order are state subjects. It has been noted by CAG that in some states such as Andhra Pradesh, the state governments’ base the entire programme on the central contribution only rather than releasing funds from state exchequers. Thus, the lack of funds has resulted in non completion of projects such as the buildings for police personnel. Similarly, the sophisticated weapons are kept only in district headquarters and not to the police stations in affected areas. Such issues need to be addressed on urgent basis. The police forces at the stations and base camps are often at the mercy of the senior officials and leaders. Moreover, the police modernisation plans need to go beyond upgrading the weapons and creating police infrastructure to taking care such basic needs.
Police personnel also need to be trained to keep a constant watch on Maoist activities in vulnerable areas. Naxalites continue to resist security force operations, gain ground and attempt to stage comebacks to areas from where they have been cleared. They can either carry out big attacks or sustain mass mobilization or ride on waves of mass movements. Endeavours to improve human and technical intelligence are must.
Strategic Communication Campaign
Success of the anti-naxal operation needs a sound strategic communication campaign; Still there is a huge gap between the common man and naxalites. A common man wants peace and security of life and livelihood. He is not convinced with the naxalist ideology but lack of options push him to the naxalists. The state has to tap this gap and make initiates to reach out to the common people. They should be reached via pamphlets, regional radio and television programmes, drama and theatre groups, advocacy groups etc. The Naxalites use the emotive issues for mobilization and the government would need to evolve a sensible policy to target the naxalite bandwagon.