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#2608, 1 July 2008
Changing Face of the Naxalites in Bihar: From Homelessness to Real Estate
Satish Kumar
Sr. Lecturer, MMH College, Ghaziabad
e-mail: bindusatish@rediffmail.com

Bihar has witnessed a fresh spurt of Naxal violence in the last few days. Two J.C.B vehicles and tractors engaged in road constructions in Jehanabad were burnt to ashes in Narayana Mushari village under Pali police station. The Maoist Communist Centre (MCC) area commander had demanded Rs3.5 million from the contractor Putu Kumar. On refusal to pay the hefty amount, the Naxal damaged his properties and halted the road construction work.

Levies have become a great evil for Bihar. As per recent revelations, the Naxal top leaders are turning into millionaires and leading a luxurious life in metropolitan cities. Following the arrest of Mr. Parmod Mishra, a top Maoist leader, by the Dhanbad police, a lot of information came into the lime light. He was found to own wide range of properties in Patna, Gaya, Kolkatta, Ranchi and Delhi. He had also invested in real estates. Lower-rung leaders have often been accused of accumulating wealth but this revelation proved that even top-notch Maoist leaders are living a luxurious life. SK Bhardwaj, Bihar's Inspector General of Police (Operations), has confirmed this report. Money is collected through levies from contractors, politicians, government officials and common people of Bihar. This is not the first time a top leader has been caught. Shahendar Bhuianya, the People's War Group (PWG) head of Jharkhand unit, eloped with Rs.20 million and later was killed by his own comrade friends. Another arrested Maoist leader, Mishir Beshra, revealed that Rs.400 millionis collected every month from levies in Jharkhand and Bihar.

Usually, the Naxalites demand 30 per cent of the total amount sanctioned to a contractor by the government for construction of roads, dams, buildings and bridges. According to intelligence sources, two banned Naxalite outfits are being similarly propped up in the killing fields of Bihar, the MCC and the Party Unity. These groups that have struck terror in south-central Bihar comprising the districts of Gaya, Hazaribagh, Jehanabad, are said to collect huge sums of money from local businessmen, contractors, government officials and industrial units. Reports say their annual booty could be around Rs.300 million.

This reflects an ideological breakdown of the Naxal outfits. Their leaders claim themselves to be apostles of extreme sacrifice and high moral stature, and preach the same to their revolutionary comrades. But gradually, they have moved from homeless to real estates. Many have also adopted the tools of ecstasy and enjoyment, with some turning into womanizers. Their children are studying in the premiere institutes of the country like IIT Kanpur. The recent arrest of Aarti, a female brigade of Naxal outfit, reveals that there is widespread sexual exploitation of women within the Naxal outfits. The custodians have become the exploiters. Moreover, intra-group fights among the Naxalites have also become rampant, as has caste violence. This has given birth to several caste-based splinter extremists groups. The intelligence sources report that more than 13 extremist groups are active in the state.

From a broader prospective, these can be seen as positive developments for the state. It will be easier for the state administration to nab the extremists. As the chasm between the ideological mascot and real practice of the Naxalites becomes wider, it will de-link the Naxalites from the poor people, especially the Dalits. The state government needs to present the real face of the Naxalites to the poor with the help of the media. Gradually, it will become difficult for the extremists to hide and seek shelter among the poor people.

The sheer capacities required to contain the Maoist threat are lacking. The approach within the state security set-up remains defensive, leaving the initiative almost entirely in Maoist hands, while the enforcement agencies continue to function within the context of a 'routine law-and-order' context. Bihar's Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has asked his top bureaucrats and police officers to strengthen the defence mechanism by speedy restoration and strengthening of basic infrastructure in Naxal-affected areas. The state administration is also planning to train the officers of Bihar police by the military.

The army has agreed to impart rigorous training to the Bihar police officials to take on the People's Guerrilla Liberation Army (PGLA) of the CPI (Maoist), which is believed to have caused extensive damage to the state police in the past few years. A decision to this effect was taken at a high level meeting of the army officials with the senior officials of the state administration under the chairmanship of RJM Pillai, the Chief Secretary. Bihar does not have any police academy to impart training to its police officers. The Maoists are better trained than the Bihar police, and therefore, are able to outsmart the police officers and manage to dodge them. This initiative will be very effective to eliminate the extremists from the state.

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