Why the Maoists in India intensify their activities during the election days? The answer is there for everyone to know. They get a large number of easy targets in the form of better equipped personnel of the central paramilitary forces at their very door-step. They ambush them with impunity and in the process increase their fire-power by snatching their weapons. What is the second reason? They want to get the attention of global and national media towards themselves as their activities are often grossly under-reported by the urban-centric Press.
Elections held in the last couple of decades have confirmed this fact. Their violent actions always made big headlines in national dailies and television channels only during the heydays of electioneering. Though they have virtual control over 163 of the 600-odd districts of the country yet their terror is often under-played. They have killed more policemen, paramilitary personnel and civilians in the past few years than any other terror group of Kashmir or North-East yet their striking-power is seldom discussed at great length in the media.
In rest of the world while the terrorists only hijack planes in the heartland of India hundreds of Maoists can easily get away by trains carrying passengers, target railway stations, waylay police stations, ambush the patrolling parties of the central paramilitary forces and loot arms, often with no resistance whatsoever.
In Orissa in 2005 hundreds of them, some reports put their figure at over one thousand, attacked a police armoury and decamped with 2,000 rifles. Only a few days later in the late evening of November 13, 2005 hundreds of Maoists made a daring assault on the jail in the heart of Jehanabad town, killed the security guards, broke open the locks and disappeared with hundreds of prisoners. All this happened when the office of the district magistrate was situated in the vicinity of the jail. Bihar was going through assembly election then. In Chhattisgarh in March 2007 they killed 55 policemen in one attack. Never in the history of independent India any militant organization has ambushed so many men in khaki in one go, yet a day later the news disappeared from the national channels and newspapers. About a decade back Peoples War Group of Andhra Pradesh attacked a train killing many passengers.
Once the election is over very few of our opinion-makers, security experts and retired intelligence bigwigs would bother to post-mortem these acts of Maoists’ terror. True they openly propagate foreign ideology – Maoism – yet they are purely an indigenous group. They have local leaders, local cadres and even many arms and ammunition are Indian – looted from the police. Since the Left extremists are active in the mineral-rich zone of the country they have easy access to dynamites used by the miners for the purpose of mining.
The Maoists, also called Naxalites, had their origin in the Naxalbari sub-division of Darjeeling district of West Bengal in late 1960s. They virtually control a large part of the rural Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Orissa. Though they have full sway in the mineral-rich region of the country where the state machinery has virtually withered away yet their strength is generally under-played.
There are several reasons for this gross under-reporting of the Maoist violence. First, since their activities are confined to rural pockets and jungles and the life of urban elite is not harmed, this hardly gets highlighted in the national media. Even in the case of 26/11 attack in Mumbai the electronic and even print media paid little attention to those who fell to the terrorists’ bullets in the CST railway station – though it was there that maximum casualties happened – and concentrated mostly around the three five-star hotels where the elites and VIPs were holed up. This bias in reporting is well evident.
Secondly, since our ruling class does not know how to solve the problem posed by the indigenous terror outfits they choose to underplay it. There is hardly any foreign power to blame for the Maoist violence. Even Nepal cannot be blamed now. Thus there is less scope for blame-game, so the stories of these killings and attacks do not sell much.
Another factor responsible for the under-playing of the Maoist threat is that there are still a lot of people in the country who may disagree with their line of action, but sympathise with their cause. Other terror groups active in the country from north to south and east to west do not have this aspect.