THE move to scrap Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes will lend a “crippling blow” to Maoist activities, with anything between Rs 50 crore and Rs 100 crore parked with the Central Committee of CPI (Maoists) going out of circulation, according to the police and a surrendered Maoist.
“The major chunk of their funds would be in Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 since money is collected from contractors and businessmen,” a surrendered former Maoist said. “The other source of revenue for them is funds collected from people in villages under their influence. This would generally be in lower denominations but would form a smaller part of their funds.”
Ravindra Kadam, Inspector General of Police (Nagpur range), said, “The (demonetisation) move is bound to cripple not only their underground activities but also their urban funds. They would have no other option than to put most of their costlier budget programmes on hold.”
The former insurgent said, “North and south Gadchiroli divisions of CPI (Maoists) collect up to Rs 15 crore annually, of which nearly Rs 13 crore to Rs 14 crore is extortion money from contractors. This is generally taken in Rs 1000 and Rs 500 notes to facilitate concealed couriering to the central committee.
The surrendered Maoist said, “Like this, there are several other divisions of the party collecting funds that could go up to at least Rs 50 crore annually. The accumulated funds over the last several decades could be even up to Rs 100 crore, and denotificaton of higher currency is bound to lend a crippling blow to the movement.”
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Any attempt by the party to get the accumulated currency notes converted into lower currency notes would be a hugely difficult task since the window available — up to December 30 — is too small.
“What they could do eventually is resort to aggressive extortion in currencies of lower denominations,” the surrendered Maoist said. But that would be a tall order since the entire area of Maoist operation now has a much bigger security presence than in the past. Meanwhile, police in insurgency-affected Gadchiroli have put in place a plan to check suspicious bank transactions in the district.”We have photographs of their village-based supporters and are keeping a watch on those turning up at banks to deposit money in Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes,” I-G (Anti-Naxal Operations) Shivaji Bodkhe said.
Banks at interior places such as Bhamragarh, Aheri, Etapalli and Alapalli have seen unusually high amounts of deposits in the last few days. District Collector Ranga Nayak said, “We are monitoring deposits for any suspicious activity. Police are getting details from banks.”
At Bhamragarh, the Bank of Maharashtra is getting deposits of Rs 20 lakh to Rs 30 lakh daily, against a daily average of Rs 5 lakh. “Locals have earned well from bamboo and tendu business. They generally keep the money at home but are now bringing it to the bank after demonitisation,” branch manager Shyamsundar Prasad said. “Besides, this is the only bank in 40-km radius catering to 110 villages.”