New Delhi: It is a familiar pattern. Every attack followed by more forces. The anti-Naxal policy followed by the Centre has shown little imagination or innovation. After every attack, the Centre has reacted with predictable regularity: send in more central forces.
And so it is this time. In less than 48 hours after top state Congress leaders were killed by Maoists in Chhattisgarh last Saturday, the Union Home Ministry has decided to dispatch 2,000 additional central police forces. They will assist in combing operations and providing security cover to politicians in the run up to the state elections due later this year.
It has fluctuated widely between a hardline stance of an all-out security operation and a softer stance of development first, security later. Some others like former Director General of Border Security Force (BSF) EN Rammohan say the solution does not lie in security operations but in giving the local tribals their rights.
"The larger issue is that the constitution isn't being followed there. You must enforce the law. Give them their rights. Once you give them their rights, why should they fight with you? See they (the advasis) are the cannon fodder, they are the foot soldiers of the Maoists and they are telling them that this government is illegal. Naturally they will listen to them. 30-40 years you haven't enforced the law of the land. Adivasis must have tried. They must have spoken to them. Some of their MLAs are there - like this Karma, they have joined the gang of looters instead of looking after their own people."
Political will or its absence has also produced mixed results in anti-Naxal campaigns. In Andhra Pradesh, political consensus enabled the state government in tackling the Maoists a decade ago. In other states the result has been mixed.
"What we require is some patience and silent work. We should not panic at such attacks. Such attacks will be launched...It (anti-Naxal strategy) is working, it is certainly working. We require a little bit of time and you can't expect results overnight. I mean this is not a vending machine where you will put a 1 Re. coin and get a coffee. It will take time and we're going to positively win. I have no doubt about it," said PV Ramana, expert on Maoism at the Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA).
According to the Home Ministry's own assessment, Jharkhand and Maharashtra have utilised central help the best, but Chhattisgarh and West Bengal have had coordination problems.
The biggest hurdle before the Indian State is perhaps its inability to determine the nature and scope of the Maoist movement. The Indian establishment analyses the problem through two contrasting lenses. The first one - subscribed to by a large section of the civil society, political leadership, and a portion of the government as well - sees the Maoist movement as a result of the State's failure. The Maoist problem, according to this view, is a result of the State abdicating its role as a guarantor of welfare. The solution to this, therefore, must lie in addressing the socio-economic development deficit. And, insomuch, the Maoists can partner the State in addressing the deficits. The view from the right, however, looks at the Maoist movement as necessarily a challenge to the manner in which politics and governance is organised in India and, therefore, needs to be addressed as enemies of the State are - militarily, without sympathy. This crucial division in placing the Maoist movement in proper perspective has reduced India's ability to address the issue effectively. The State's ambiguity has resulted in a stalemate in the crucial fight against the creeping progress of the Naxalite movement in the country.
Experts believe capacity building of state police, intelligence operatives and consistent delivery of basic services to the people is the only long term solution to arrest spread of Maoism, but for that to happen political consensus combined with bureaucratic efficiency has to emerge.