Maoist activities are likely to suffer a major setback following the scrapping of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes as the ultras may find it difficult to dispose of their cash, apparently in hundreds of crores, concealed in insurgency-hit regions of Chhattisgarh, police have claimed. According to sources, Naxals have stashed over Rs 7,000 crore at their dumps in Bastar region.
Following the move, the state police have beefed up security at banks, ATMs and other economic establishments in the insurgency-affected pockets, particularly Bastar.
“As per intelligence inputs, the ban on higher currency has frustrated the Naxals and they may target ATMs, banks, post offices and other business establishments in near future in the areas of their presence,” Special Director General of Police (anti-Maoist operations) D M Awasthi said.
“In view of it, security forces in all the districts, particularly those Naxal-affected, have been alerted and asked to enhance security of such establishments,” he said.
According to Awasthi, Maoists collect crores of rupees through levy and extortion and keep cash with them or in the dumps in forests for their activities and distribution among their cadres and supporters.
With the demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, Naxalites might make attempts through various ways via their local supporters or villagers to deposit the money or exchange it in banks. Therefore, checks are also being conducted to intercept unaccounted cash in these areas, he said.
Notably, police had recovered unaccounted cash of Rs 44.25 lakh, in the denomination of old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, and jewellery worth Rs 2 lakh from possession of a man in the Naxal-affected Kondagaon district on Friday.
The person was unable to produce valid documents to explain the cash and jewellery he possessed and he was being interrogated to ascertain the source of the money.
Earlier, in 2014, police had seized Rs 29 lakh from a Maoist dump in the Maoist-hit Rajnandgaon district.
Besides, after a gun-battle with ultras, security forces had recovered Rs eight lakh in Gariaband district while in another incident, Rs one lakh in Sukma district this year.
A senior police official of Bastar range claimed that Maoists would suffer a big blow as they have concealed over Rs 7,000 crore cash alone in Bastar region, which is fighting the menace of Left Wing Extremism since past three decades.
“We will not let them deposit or exchange the money in banks. Security forces have been alerted to keep a track of activities of Maoists and their supporters. Patrolling has been intensified in interior forests and bordering areas,” he said on condition of anonymity.
Levy is a major source of money for Maoists in Bastar which is a hotspot for them. It is collected by local cadres from miners, tendu leaves and transport contractors, local traders, who fear them, the police official said.
Subsequently, the money is transferred to senior Maoist leaders who use the cash to purchase firearms, ammunition, medicines, commodities of daily use, besides distributing it to commander rank cadres to run the banned movement in their respective areas, he said.
Recent inputs suggest that Naxals have collected and kept over Rs 7,000 crore in their separate dumps under Bastar region, spread over an area about 40,000 sq kms.
After the demonetisation, they will face trouble in procuring items of daily use as well as weapons with old notes thereby affecting the Maoist activities greatly in Bastar and adjoining areas, the police official said.
Moreover, bank officials have been requested to share information about suspicious deposits in accounts in the region, he added.