Op-Ed: Tackling The Menace of Left Wing Extremism

By Ashutosh Mishra

Bhubaneswar: The killing of seven Maoists in an encounter in Rajnandgaon district of neighbouring Chhatisgarh is certain to boost the morale of security forces on both sides of the border as they have been working in close cooperation to end the menace of left wing extremism.

Both Chhatisgarh and Odisha have been at the receiving end of Maoist violence. The Darbha valley ambush that eliminated almost the entire senior Congress leadership of Chhatisgarh in 2013 is still etched in the minds of people. In what is still considered to be their biggest strike against politicians the rebels had attacked a convoy of Congress leaders passing through Darbha valley in Sukma district.

At least 27 people including former minister, Mahendra Karma and then Chhatisgarh Congress chief, Nand Kumar Patel were killed on the spot. Veteran leader and former union minister, Vidya Charan Shukla died of his injuries later.

The rebels have also been targeting politicians in Odisha. In 2011 they had gunned down ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) MLA, Jagbandhu Majhi in full public view in Nabarangpur district. The wheelchair-bound lawmaker was distributing land rights papers to people at a function in his constituency when he was shot from point blank range. A year later the Maoists kidnapped another ruling party MLA in Koraput district.

The rebels have also carried out several violent operations in Odisha accounting for the lives of a large number of policemen and civilians. In 2008 they had gunned down more than two dozen jawans of undivided Andhra Pradesh’s elite greyhound force in Malkangiri district while they were trying to cross the Balimela reservoir. Soon after they carried out a massive operation in Nayagarh killing several policemen.

In 2011 the rebels scripted history by kidnapping the then Malkangiri collector, R Vineel Krishna who was released after spending about a week in their captivity. The state government had to accede to some important demands of the Maoists to secure the freedom of Krishna.

The security forces have also had some major successes against the rebels. The Malkangiri police led by its then superintendent of police, Akhileshwar Singh had gunned down 13 Maoists in an encounter in Salaikota reserve forests in 2013. A huge cache of arms and ammunition had also been seized from the encounter spot.

The security forces had a much bigger success in October, 2016 when as many as 25 Maoists were killed in an encounter within Jantri police station area of Malkangiri on Odisha-Andhra Pradesh border. Several senior rebel leaders including Munna, the son of their central committee member, Ramakrishna, were killed in that exchange of fire.

But security forces both in Chhatisgarh and Odisha need to carry out more such operations in order to be able to stamp out the menace of Maoist militancy which has been adversely affecting the lives of a large number of people in both the states. Top police officials on both sides have repeatedly emphasized the importance of joint operations but they must be planned meticulously. It is time to launch an all out war against left wing extremism.

(DISCLAIMER: This is an opinion piece. The views expressed are author’s own and have nothing to do with OTV’s charter or views. OTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.)