Why the Maoist resurgence in the Telugu states must be addressed

Telangana and Andhra have seen a steady growth of Maoists ever since the bifurcation of AP in June last year
Why the Maoist resurgence in the Telugu states must be addressed
Why the Maoist resurgence in the Telugu states must be addressed
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Strengthening their foothold in the two Telugu speaking states of Telangana and Andhra, over 250 armed Maoists are reported to have moved from Chhatttisgarh to Visakhapatnam over the last month.

The new Maoists cadres have been spotted in Pedabayalu, GK Veedhi and Korukonda of the Agency area as well as in Kalimela, Podia, Narayanapatna, and the cut-off area near Balimela reservoir on the Odisha side of the Andhra-Odisha border, the Times of India reported.

The Hindu reported that the new group consisted of members from a Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group (PVTG) and are influencing villagers from the same PVTG community in the Visakha Agency, who themselves have relocated here after being evicted from their original habitats in Odisha and other places due to projects set up there.

The Maoists are getting support from the 'Girijans' who work in the large and major coffee plantations in the area. The CPI(M) has also demanded that the workers be paid higher wages and given ownership over the plantations.

Telangana and Andhra have seen a slow but steady growth of the red brigade ever since the bifurcation of AP in June last year.

While Telangana is fending off Maoists from its border in Khammam district, Andhra has been trying to fight them in Vizag's agency area.

Telangana's Adilabad district also saw a large team of Naxals on the move after the October 30 killing of a tribal youth at Keriguda village in Tiryani mandal.

A report in The Hindu adds that a major concern for the security forces is the support enjoyed by Maoists in the villages of Adilabad due to corruption and continued exploitation of the tribals at the local level.

However, the resurgence was not unexpected. In November 2013, then Andhra chief minister Kiran Kumar Reddy had presented his arguments for a united Andhra Pradesh. One of his arguments was that there would be a resurgence of Maoists.

"If AP is bifurcated, there is every possibility of Naxalism and extremism growing in both the proposed states as the police force will be reduced by 40 percent after division. Division of AP will pave the way for resurgence of Naxalism and extremism....80 percent of the Maoist leadership is from AP. Bifurcation of AP will split the police force and thus weaken it, which helps the Naxals to resurrect. This may even pose a threat to the security of the country," he had said.

While the states are conducting frequent combing operations and encounters are on the rise, the Maoist cadre seems undeterred.

A recent case is the kidnapping of three leaders of the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) in Andhra Pradesh demanding that the state withdraw its orders on bauxite mining in the area - which it suspended, after the release of the leaders.

This kidnapping was preceded by an anti-bauxite mining meeting in August which nearly 800 people from 25 villages attended and was followed by a death threat to an Andhra minister.

Even in Telangana, six mandal level leaders of the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) party were kidnapped by Maoists from a remote village late in Khammam district and later released ahead of the Warangal by-polls. The Maoists demanded that combing operations in the forests be stopped.

"There is no doubt that the blame for the return of the Maoists has to be squarely laid on the government, the administration and the police," says Noel Swaranjit Sen, former DGP of AP and an expert in tackling Naxalism.

Swaranjit feels that combing operations and encounters may just curb the rebels but will not solve the problem.

"We must look at the root causes. It is shameful that even today, in a democracy like India, we are looking at annihilation of the Maoists and not looking at how hard it is for them to obtain justice and what drives them to extremism," he says.

Claiming that the police is "being used as a tool to subjugate" under the administration, he adds that "there is a need for a platform where these people can express their problems," and sort it out without resorting to violence.

Swaranjit also feels that encounters are necessary but not unless they are approved by senior officials in the force, especially when "the local public are swooning."

"Before it is too late, the government must ensure that good administration is implemented, so the state can reach out to these people," he adds.

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