In the past 10 years, Communist Party of India (Maoists) organised as many as 489 training camps for more than 40,000 cadres who have been taught about the use of sophisticated weapons and guerrilla warfare, according to information obtained under the Right to Information (RTI) Act from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). The revelations are significant as in the recent months several attacks on security personnel have been carried out by Maoists. These very 40,000 cadres have been trained over the years for such deadly attacks.
The original number of cadres trained could be much higher as this is just the data which MHA has recorded. The information provided by MHA under RTI shows that while there was a year-on-year increase in the number of training camps – from 16 in 2004 to 93 in 2010, thereafter the numbers decreased to five in 2014. While ministry officials are attributing the decrease to the success of Operation Green Hunt, Maoist experts claim that the rebels are shifting the districts of the training camps and thus the forces are not able to find out about the camps. “Because of the Operation Green Hunt the Maoists have not been able to organise training camps like before,” said an official who works in the Naxal Management Division of the MHA on condition of anonymity.
The Operation Green Hunt was launched in November 2009 during the previous UPA government and is described as an ‘all-out offensive’ by paramilitary forces and the state’s police against the Maoists. “MHA has no idea about the exact number of training camps. These numbers are their imagination. The actual numbers could be much higher. While Maoists shift base and the camp locations, the security forces and state police have eyes glued to the same spot,” said Suhas Chakma, Director, Asian Centre for Human Rights. For instance, not a single training camp was held until 2010 in Gadchiroli district of Maharashtra. And since 2010 nearly 10 camps have been organised, training more than 1,000 cadre. “If they know about these camps, why are they not able to dismantle them,” asks Chakma.
The biggest challenge for the security forces came from the BJP-ruled Chhattisgarh, which tops the chart. Maoists organised 200 training camps in the forest areas during the above period and trained 20,000 cadres. Next in line is Jharkhand in which 12,582 cadres were trained in 136 camps. In the third position is Orissa with 4,136 cadres trained in 56 camps. As per the MHA data, preferred districts of organising camps have been Dantewada, Narayanpur in Chattishgarh and Giridih and Bokaro in Jharkhand. Cumulatively, more than 15,000 cadres were trained in these districts. Training camps have two major components – military and in-doctrine. The military training mainly consists of guerrilla warfare, ambush, handling of explosives and sophisticated weapons. Generally, such training camps are conducted for 10 to 15 days, but sometimes it lasts for more than a month. Under in-doctrine training, cadre are told about the Maoist ideology in details and explained about the ultimate objective.
Recoveries made during the raids conducted by the state police on Maoist training camps in the past give us a glimpse of what goes on in such training camps. Police have recovered devices ranging from solar plates and radio sets to tiffin bombs, guns and other explosives. “The newly recruited cadre that also includes young kids are trained in handling sophisticated weapons and explosives. They are also taught methods to escape and retaliate during a police crackdown,” said former Director General of Police Rahul Gopal, who is known for his anti-naxal operations in Gadchiroli district.