Maoists forging links with NE Ultras

NEW DELHI, Sept. 15 – Formally sounding the alarm bells for the first time ever, Union Home Minister, P Chidamdaram on Monday confirmed that CPI (Maoist) has been seeking to link up with the insurgent groups based in the North-east. Chidambaram’s revelation may prove to be yet another headache for security agencies. As reported by this newspaper, Maoists have been seeking to expand to the North-east. Existence of ULFA camps in Nepal and presence of other North-east based insurgent groups in the country indicates links between Maoists and the North Eastern rebel leaders.

Chief Minister, Tarun Gogoi had also indicated possible links between ULFA and NDFB with the Maoists, while addressing a recent meeting on internal security. The security agencies also have evidences of the Maoists establishing formal links with militant outfits including PLA in Manipur.

“In a bid to expand its network and influence, the CPI (Maoist) has been seeking alliances with secessionist and terrorist elements in the country. It has been keenly seeking ideological resonance and tactical understanding with the North-east insurgents and has begun to lend support to their secessionist ideology and demands,” said Chidambaram, addressing the annual conference of DGPs and IGPs here today.

The CPI (Maoist) has also improved upon its military wares and operational tactics. Besides targeting the police, alleged police informers and so-called class enemies, it is laying greater emphasis on attacking economic and development infrastructure such as roads, bridges, railways, power and telecommunication networks.

With increasing sophistication in fabrication and deployment of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), it has inflicted more casualties on the security forces (SFs). At least 123 security personnel have lost their lives so far in 61 landmine-based Maoist actions this year. Altogether, 231 SF personnel were killed in Naxal violence in 2008 while 250 SF personnel have lost their lives this year, he said, pointing to the danger poised by the Naxals.

Referring to the region, Chidambaram again cautioned that endemic insurgencies in the North-east are yet another security challenge before the country. The trend of gradual deterioration in security situation during the last several years seems to have been checked this year, with relative decline in overall violence, he added.

“Sharp shrinkage in social resonance has rendered the ULFA a much weaker organisation,” the Home Minister said.

A significant chunk of the NDFB choosing to abjure violence and seek redressal through constitutionally available means has marginalised the anti-talks faction and has led to a perceptible reduction in violence in lower Assam, claimed Chidambaram.

“The hill districts nevertheless remain disturbed. We welcome the recent decision of the DHD (J) to surrender arms, remain in camps and talk to the Government of Assam on their demands,” said the Home Minister, whose gambit to play hardball with DHD (J) has yielded results.

During the conference of the Chief Minister on internal security Chidambaram said that some North Eastern State Governments have allowed themselves to bend before insurgent groups, making the fight against insurgency that much more difficult.

“I propose to hold discussions with the State Governments concerned and draw up State-specific strategies to deal with the insurgent groups in the three most-affected States of Assam, Nagaland and Manipur, said Chidambaram identifying the three-worst insurgency-affected States in the Region.

Today, he sang a different tune, asserting that security situation has improved perceptibly in Meghalaya and Tripura, where insurgencies have been contained successfully. Regretfully, Manipur remains resistant to counter-insurgency interventions. “It is the most insurgency-affected state in the North-East, the Home Minister again reiterated leaving out Assam and Nagaland.

Conceding the role of the neighbouring countries in fanning trouble, Chidambaram said insurgency in the North-east has been sustained to a significant extent due to an extensive international border, safe sanctuaries in the neighbouring countries and easy availability of sophisticated arms in South-East Asia.

The Union Home Minister also made a reference to leakage of development funds in the Region, which are often siphoned off by the militants. Large-scale diversion of development funds to the militants’ gives them easy access to critical resources, which helps them recruit new cadres as well as procure arms.

The Home Minister suggested that the Conference should dwell on finding workable ways and means to curb illegal diversion of funds to the militants.

“On insurgency in the North-east, we urge the insurgent groups to lay down arms and hold talks with the Governments concerned on matters relating to governance, development, cultural identity, said Chidambaram.