On June 9, 2006, the Government of Orissa imposed a ban on the Communist Party of India (Maoist) and seven of its front organizations under the Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1908. The front organizations declared unlawful are: Daman Pratirodh Manch, Revolutionary Democratic Front, Chasi Mulia Samiti, Kui Labanga Sangh, Jana Natya Mandali, Krantikari Kisan Samiti and Bal Sangam. The ban order was accompanied by a comprehensive surrender and rehabilitation package for the naxals.
Payment of up to Rs. 10,000 on acceptance of surrender, Rs. 20,000 on surrender of arms and ammunition, allotment of land, house building grants up to Rs. 25,000 and Rs. 15,000 for marriage, are the main features of this package. It also includes bank loans up to Rs. 2 lakh; subsidy up to Rs. 50,000 after repayment of 75 per cent of the loan; payment of interest after two years from the date a loan is availed of and free medical treatment in government hospitals. Those surrendering will also get the reward money on their head. Besides, the state government has also announced that all minor cases against those who surrender will be withdrawn. Announcing the ban, the state Home Secretary Santosh Kumar said that a District Level Screening Committee with the Collector, the Superintendent of Police and an officer from the Intelligence Department as its members would recommend the package for the surrendered naxalites.
The history of Left Wing Extremism in Orissa dates back to 1951. For many years the underdeveloped tribal belt of Southern and Western Orissa has served as a fertile ground for the growth of Naxalism, yet successive governments in Orissa never showed any inclination to provide a long time solution. Today half of the state is under the red terror, for which the government cannot escape the blame.
For quite some time the Orissa Government was under tremendous pressure to take a tough stand on the growing problem of naxalism in the state. Recently, during a meeting of the 'Coordination Committee' of the naxal affected states in April, the Union Government conveyed its anguish over the 'no naxal' policy in the state. There was widespread distrust in the rank and file of the state police over the state government's double standards. There is a feeling still that the state government took this decision keeping its eye on the forthcoming local body elections in Orissa.
Whatever the reason, a major policy shift has undoubtedly occurred, which will have far reaching implications for the complex problem of Naxalism in the state. Although it is too early to predict anything, there are reasons to believe that the CPI (Maoists) will not keep quiet. With a newly formed Peoples Liberation Guerrilla Army (PLGA) and a State Committee, both headed by the undisputed guerilla leader Sabyasachi Panda, the naxalites will definitely challenge the state government. Barring the Daman Pratirodh Manch, all other banned outfits were operating underground; hence this ban will not affect their functioning. On the other hand, the stakes are high for the state government. A ban is no solution; the government will have to effectively coordinate its military offensive with socio-economic overtures to make the ban effective.
Nevertheless, the ban would boost the morale of the Police force, which was waging a lonely battle against the red terror in Orissa. The next logical step for the government is to embark on police modernization. In recent years, the naxal attacks have proved that they have become masters of guerrilla warfare. To tackle them the government needs a modern police force. Police modernization does not mean procurement of arms; it is linked to crucial elements of recruitment, training, counseling, and intelligence. The Government's decision to ban the Naxal Movement will yield results only when an effective police force implements the ban. The state government should come out with a package for its Police Force who are working in the naxal hit areas; the neighboring state of Andhra Pradesh has declared several such incentives for its police personnel.
The most important part of the government announcement is the policy on surrender and rehabilitation. If properly executed this would provide the government with an opportunity to crack the naxal network, while revealing the human face of the government in its war against the red terror. The growth of naxal violence in Orissa necessitated a tough stand by the government. Now, after imposing the ban the government has made it clear that violence cannot be allowed to impede development. The success of this ban impact depends on the government's ability to integrate its military and developmental approaches into its counter naxal programmes and policies.