When the Modi government came at the helm of affairs in 2014, one major challenge was tackling the naxals, who had by then gripped vast tracts of land right in the middle of the country under their influence. However, it seems that the Modi government and the security forces have made light work of the naxals in the last four years. Back to back successes for the government against the naxals have made sure that naxalism is no longer a force to reckon with. They are more or less restricted to the stronghold areas and even there naxals are facing a stiff challenge as the security forces are showing clear dominance.
In the final push to finish Naxalism, Modi government is going to employ specialized anti-Naxal combat force called “Black Panther” on the lines of the Greyhound unit and set up ‘Bastariya Batallion’. Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, after chairing a meeting on Left-Wing Extremism (LWE), informed the media that “Chhattisgarh will have a new force on the lines of the Greyhounds. It will be called Black Panther. Training (for the personnel who will be part of it) is being imparted and it would be launched soon.”
In yet another manifestation of this trend, Kondagaon Superintendent of Police (SP), Abhishek Pallav said, “More than 50 naxals either chose to surrender or were arrested in the last month. Daily 4-5 naxals come forward to surrender. Developmental work is being done in the district.” This succinctly sums up how the government and the security forces have broken the back of naxals. It also suggests that the naxalites are not only losing the ground under their control but they are also losing the ideological battle that they themselves had waged.
This is not for the first time that a high number of surrenders have been reported from a naxal stronghold. Earlier, in March this year, fifty-nine naxals including sixteen women, had surrendered before the police and the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) in the naxal bastion of Sukma in Chhattisgarh. The security forces have zeroed in on the naxals in the stronghold areas and have beaten the naxals strategically. The forces have snapped their finances, targeted their top-level commanders and have focused on precise intelligence in order to take on the naxals. With this, it has become extremely arduous for the naxals to procure necessary supplies and ammunition and to move their men and ammunition. Frequent and significant encounters by the police and the security forces have systematically inflicted heavy damage on the naxals and have forced their troops to surrender.
While on one hand, the security forces have targeted and weakened naxal commanders and have effectively restricted naxalism to few pockets, the state governments and the centre have focused on quick and efficient development in the naxal hit areas. This has been done with a view to ensure that none of the naxal hit areas live in wilderness anymore. Naxals have traditionally been targeting the far-flung, remote and isolated areas. Rapid progress and development has brought such areas within the mainstream and therefore, such areas are out of naxal control now. Some of the key areas of development have been road construction, installation of mobile towers and setting up of police stations in remote areas. Another such development has been the inauguration of an airport in Bastar which is destined to have a far-reaching effect on Bastar which was once considered a naxal stronghold and even in the adjoining areas affected by naxalism.
Surrender by naxals in such high numbers is a clear reflection of the fact that naxal guerrillas are not only losing physically but psychologically also. It sends across a strong signal that naxalism no longer attracts those living in far-flung and remote areas. Naxalism has lost its ability to mislead innocent minds into indulging in violence. There has been total erosion in naxal influence that is visible on the face of it. Those who were earlier attracted towards left wing extremism (LWE) want to join the mainstream now. With this, it is possible that the battered naxalites might look to their urban counterparts to continue their ideological battle.