The Prime Minister has over the past three years, rated the Maoist challenge or Left Wing Extremism( LWE) as the most serious internal security threat confronting India. Statistics have been bandied about regarding the number of districts and police jurisdictions affected, the arms snatched, persons killed or abducted, ambushes laid, IED explosions and the forces raised and trained to combat the menace. A unified command has been established to facilitate inter-state coordination and special laws have been enacted. Undoubtedly there has been pressure on the LWE and the overall impact has not been inconsiderable. However, the battle remains joined. Talks have been suggested and modalities discussed.
Intermediaries have been busy. Some see negotiations as a ploy by the Maoists to win respite and gain time to regroup as their ultimate aim is to seize state power through proletarian revolution. The Government has said it will talk if the Maoists honestly accept suspension of operations and “do not carry arms”. Nothing has gelled. The Maoists have penetrated the deepest interiors, especially in tribal and forest belts where they have sought to establish “liberated zones” and training and indoctrination centres. While doing so, they have not taken their gaze away from areas with dalit and small peasant concentrations where oppressive land and feudal relations have stirred discontent. This is not to suggest that tribals, dalits and other disadvantaged groups are by definition pro-Naxal. But targeting such groups manifests a strategy that considers the “enemy’s” enemy a friend.