With four major attacks in three days, Maoist violence continues unabated in Chhattisgarh. A mine protected vehicle was blown up by a road-side bomb on the Cholnar-Kirandul road, killing four policemen and injuring seven. Earlier, seven special task force (STF) troopers were killed and 10 injured when Maoists ambushed them in Sukma district on Saturday. On Sunday, Maoists set ablaze at least 17 vehicles engaged in mining work, while a BSF jawan was killed in Kanker district. Despite the deployment of the CoBRA, STF, CRPF and state police in large numbers in Chhattisgarh, the Maoists appear to be operating at will. Law and order is a state subject, and the Raman Singh government, which is in its third term now, has enough political and administrative experience to craft and implement a workable anti-Maoist strategy. With the BJP ruling at the Centre as well, the state government cannot even claim a lack of support or poor coordination with the Union government.
In its 2014 general election manifesto, the BJP had promised to “chalk a national plan in consultation and participation of the state governments, to address the challenges posed by the Maoist’s insurgency”. Yet, 11 months after it came to power, there has been no progress on that promise. Neither have public consultations been held with the state governments, nor has a draft national plan been placed in the public domain. After 11 CRPF personnel were killed by the Maoists last December, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh had promised Parliament that he would take “all possible measures to increase the capability of the state governments”. Instead, the last Union budget has reduced Central funding for the modernisation of state police forces by Rs 800 crore. All the Maoist-affected states urgently need more and better infrastructure. It is incumbent upon state governments now to substantially increase their police budgets from the additional 10 per cent share of Central taxes granted by the Fourteenth Finance Commission.
Addressing the problem of inadequate equipment — from big-ticket items like helicopters and drones to jungle boots and bulletproof jackets — and their poor quality should also be taken up with seriousness. Longstanding issues of intelligence collection and analysis, coordination between Central forces and state police, shortage of adequate police, and regular training of serving policemen need to be settled between the states and the Central government. Allowing things to drift is unfair to the police and paramilitary forces, which are performing a difficult duty in a dangerous environment.