Big Naxal challenge: The urban network

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Chhattisgarh:  Intelligence officer Francis Induwar of Khunti police station was perhaps killed when Maoists panicked in the face of massive and repeated police operations launched to rescue the kidnapped officer. But now the fight against the Maoists will be spilling out into the urban areas and front organizations and the urban network is one of the prime targets.

Naxal leader Kobad Ghandy, who was arrested recently, is believed to be in charge of the Maoist network in urban areas. Kobad pleaded before the court he was just a writer.

Now, documents seized from Chhattisgarh reveal a chilling plan. Maoists are rapidly expanding their urban base by building unity fronts. These comprise students, workers and the intelligentsia. Some infiltrate key industries, sabotage and even carry out military operations. Others fight court cases and get more recruits.

And they all work very quietly.

Inspector General of Police (Bastar range), TJ Longkumer says: The Naxalites search out any kind of agitation against the government, whether it is lead by the Leftists, Centrists or even the Rightists...For them, anyone who is agitating in some form or other against the government, they will try to infiltrate."

It is difficult to identify front organizations, but there over 100 of them stretching from Raipur to Delhi and Mumbai in operation.

Sources in the Chhattisgarh government say as the pressure against the Maoists increases, the number of front organisations is also going up. It is here that the government is trying to come up with a plan.

Director General of Police, Chhattisgarh, Viswa Ranjan, the man leading the fight against the Maoists, says fighting front organizations needs a different method. He says: "Fighting the urban network requires a different level of intelligence...fighting them in the jungle requires military strategy.

The Union Home Minister, P Chidambaram, who recently flew down to Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand to meet family members of soldiers killed by Maoists and to hold a review on the on-going battle, is clear that front organisations are as dangerous as the armed Maoists. But the big question is  - do the states and the Centre have the political will to crack down on professors, students and retired bureaucrats?

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