New Delhi: Virtually declaring an all-out war against the Naxalite menace, Union home minister Rajnath Singh stressed the need for greater use of technology, actionable intelligence, choking financial channels and adopting an aggressive strategy to target the top Maoist leadership. Speaking at a conference of 10 Naxal-infested states here on Monday in the wake of the recent killings of CRPF personnel, Mr Singh underlined the urgent need to set up a strategic unified command, saying unity of purpose was needed among all affected states.
National security adviser Ajit Doval and top security and intelligence officials from the Centre and states also took part in the meeting, which decided to evolve a uniform strategy to take on the Naxals. Sending a tough message, the home minister said he was confident that with a new strategy in place, the anti-Naxal operations will be more successful in future. The states, he added, should play a bigger role in such operations and “take ownership”.
The meeting, sources said, discussed how the strategy could be recaliberated to make it more effective and to reduce casualties among security personnel.
Choking the Naxals’ financial resources was the “most basic mantra”, the home minister said, as resources play a major role in any war. He also stressed the need for greater use of technology like trackers in weapons and biometrics in smart guns, which are some of the new tech to check the use of looted arms by the militants.
“It would be advisable to have trackers in weapons, as well as biometrics in smart gun triggers — as a tracker can locate a looted weapon wherever it is taken or used, while biometrics can make a smart gun useless for anyone other than the authorised user. Trackers should also be embedded in shoes and bulletproof jackets,” the minister added. In addition, Mr Singh said, unique identification numbers could be used in gelatin and other explosive materials.
Referring to use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), the home minister said this should be further augmented and more such surveillance gear should be procured and given to the security forces. “We need to use high-resolution PTZ cameras, GPS tracking, hand-held thermal imaging, radar and satellite imaging,” he said.
On intelligence-gathering, the minister said surrendered Naxals should be used “more effectively” to obtain information. Mr Singh also claimed that in order to evolve actionable intelligence, it was important that all intelligence agencies and security forces establish a good network with the local people.
Talking about the welfare of securitymen deployed in Naxal-affected areas, who often face fatigue and stress, the home minister said it was important that their camps have better facilities for power, water and mobile phone connectivity. It was imperative that the security forces follow the laid-down Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and remain alert about their own security.
“We have to bring aggression in our policy, there should be aggression in our thinking, aggression in our strategy, aggression in deployment of security forces, aggression in operations, aggression in bringing development, aggression in road construction… We must focus on the concept of “Samadhan” — which means S-Smart Leadership, A-Aggressive Strategy, M-Motivation and Training, A-Actionable Intelligence, D-Dashboard Based KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) and KRAs (Key Result Areas), H-Harnessing Technology, A-Action Plan for Each Theatre, N-No Access to Financing,” the home minister said.
Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar criticised the Centre for stopping funds for crucial schemes to fight Naxals and for refusing the state’s request for a helicopter for quick deployment of forces in anti-Maoist operations. Mr Kumar said the UPA government had introduced some schemes for capacity enhancement of the security forces and to address local disparities in LWE-affected states like Special Infrastructure Scheme, Integrated Action Plan and Security Related Expenditure.
The Bihar CM claimed these schemes had shown good results but since last year some were discontinued and ironically when they were hoping the government would strengthen these schemes and enhance resources. It was decided at the meeting that such schemes will continue. Mr Kumar suggested changes in the Money Laundering Act to check the funding of Naxal outfits.
Speaking at the meeting, Chhattisgarh CM Raman Singh, heading the state that is possibly the worst affected by Naxal violence, suggested greater use of air power which could target the Naxal leadership, and continuous work for development, among other things. It was also decided to operationalise the airport at Jagdalpur, the nerve centre of Naxal activities.
Jharkhand CM Raghubar Das sought more assistance from the Centre to establish an Air Surveillance Unit in Ranchi and modernisation of madrasas to deal with the Naxal problem. Most states demanded more helicopter support and use of modern technology in anti-Naxal operations.
The CRPF has, meanwhile, decided to further beef up the presence of elite CoBRA commandos in Chhattisgarh’s Sukma district by deploying 2,000 more security personnel. The force has already shifted its anti-Naxal ops command centre from Kolkata to Raipur to further strengthen its operations in the state.