Subodh Ghildiyal, 2 Oct, 2006 TIMES NEWS NETWORK
NEW DELHI: It's a case of the cops facing their own guns. As 'red extremists' turn a menace for security agencies with their firepower, 60% of their weapons are estimated to be stolen from policemen.
Putting a number to Naxalite strength operating through the 'red corridor' up to Nepal and enumerating their increasingly improving firepower as also inter-state coordination, Union home ministry has sounded the states about the need for counter measures on a war-footing.
MHA, in a rare estimate, has stated there are about 6,620 Naxalites across the country, with 4,800 regular weapons, of which 2,800 could be stolen from police. Virtually all these men and machines are controlled by the Maoists.
But what is giving sleepless nights to the security agencies are the Naxals' possessing highly sophisticated equipment. The recent seizure of 800 rockets from Andhra Pradesh is only the tip of the iceberg.
The state government has informed the Centre that the Naxals have highly-sophisticated VHF sets with scrambler facility to send encrypted messages. These sets have a sensitivity of .16 mv while that of police sets is .30 mv. Besides, the Naxals are also reported to be using satellite phones.
They are also using improvised explosives in the form of crude rockets, pressure and wireless activated mines.
The trail of crude rockets has taken the cops to industrial units in Tamil Nadu, jolting the Centre to new challenges of R&D among Naxalites.
Naxals are thriving on looted weapons is reflected in Uttar Pradesh, which is among less affected states, and Orissa, which has seen a sharp growth in red extremism in the last few years.
In UP, Naxalites started by raiding PAC and police posts. Though limited to three districts Mirzapur, Sonbhadra and Chandauli the state has reported that the Naxals form small groups with three AK-47s, 16 SLRs, three stenguns besides rifles of different bores, weapons used by PAC or snatched from cops on patrol.
Orissa where consolidation of Naxals has been sharp as evidenced by sensational jailbreaks like in Udaigiri is said to have 700 hardcore Naxals operating with AK-47s and other rifles.
The Centre now has an additional worry: that arms surrender in Nepal could see Maoists' weapons being stashed away or smuggled into Indian districts from where they could find their way through the 'red corridor'.
Within the country, MHA has inputs of a subtle "structural changes" in Naxal operations.