Indian Government’s new policy is found to be paying dividends in containing Left Wing Extremism
The “National Policy and Action Plan”
This plan is a multi-pronged strategy involving security and development related measures. The Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has been implementing this plan since the year 2015, to combat Left Wing Extremism (LWE).
Significant features of the ‘new’ policy were the “zero tolerance towards violence” coupled with “a big push to developmental activities” so that benefits of development reached the poor and vulnerable in the affected areas.
The MHA categorized 106 districts in 10 states as Left Wing Extremism affected. These districts were covered by the “Security Related Expenditure Scheme or (SRE)” of the Ministry, for the purpose of reimbursement of security related expenditure like; transportation, communication, hiring of vehicles, stipend for surrendered Maoists, temporary infrastructure for forces etc to the states.
Now out of the 106 districts identified, 35 districts which accounted for 80 to 90 % of country-wide LWE violence were categorized as ‘Most Affected Districts’.
This categorization has provided the basis for focused deployment of resources (both the security and development related).
Fluid territorial divisions
Over the last few years, a number of districts have been carved into smaller districts. And because of it, the geographical area of the “106 SRE districts” had apparently spread over “126 districts” and that of the “35 most affected districts” expanding in to “36 districts”.
Yet, over the last four years, there has been a substantial improvement in the LWE scenario. Some indicators to support the claim:
- Incidents of violence have seen a 20% decline with a 34% reduction in related deaths in 2017 as compared to 2013.
- Geographical spread of LWE violence also shrunk from 76 districts in 2013 to just 58 districts in 2017.
- And now only 30 of these districts (126) account for 90% of the LWE violence in the country. While at the same time certain new districts have emerged as the focus of expansion by the Left Wing Extremists.
- The Ministry has also recently undertaken comprehensive exercise in consultation with the States to review the affected districts, in order to ensure that the deployment of resources is in sync with the changed ground reality. And accordingly, “44 districts have been excluded” and “08 new districts” have been added to the list of SRE districts.
- As for the pre-emptive measures: In order to counter Maoist efforts to expand their influence in the tribal areas at the tri-junction of Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, three districts of Kerala have been included in the list of SRE Districts. Despite the fact that there is hardly any violence in the new districts.
- The net outcome of the exercise is that:
- 90 districts in 11 States will now be covered by the Scheme, down from 126.
- The list of ‘Most Affected Districts’ has been pruned to 30, down from 36.
- And, the revised categorization is a more realistic representation of the actual LWE scenario.