Taking a leaf out of the underworld dons’ book, Maoists are now indulging in sophisticated money-laundering operations such as investing illicit funds in real estate and gold biscuits.
For the first time, the security forces have unravelled details of Maoist finances and their sources of income.
Documents available with the Express reveal that Maoists extort money from at least 14 sources ranging from individuals to industries. These sources include educational institutions, liquor businessmen, Tendu leaf contractors and the mining industry.
“Protection money” extracted from government servants as well as politicians also form part of the Naxals’ income.
Security forces said industries, small and big, play a major role in sponsoring Naxal units in nine states affected by Left-wing extremism.
According to the documents, an over-ground member of the outfit or an NGO is deputed to collect the extortion amount from these sources. Sources said the Maoists try to operate legitimate businesses, which generate their own profits and can be used as a front for money laundering.
In some cases, Maoists purchase vehicles and give them to their over-ground supporters and frontmen. Large amounts of cash is neatly packed in multiple layers of polythene kept inside metal boxes and dropped into tanks stacked away in dumps in forests.
A Maoist document titled “Maintenance of Dumps” provides details of securing these money storage sites. In some instances, huge sums are parked in bank accounts of over-ground Maoist sympathisers.
Officials said the Maoists’ accounting system is similar to that of a professional book-keeper in the underworld. They have issued guidelines through a written document titled “Our Financial Policy”. It said the Maoists are collecting approximately Rs 140 crore from businesses in the affected areas.
The amount to be collected each year is decided by the Maoists’ central committee. Each level of the Maoist cadre maintains a detailed statement of the collected money.
A consolidated expenditure is prepared by the commander and submitted to the higher-ups at regular meetings.
A considerable amount of money is being spent on propaganda in the so-called liberated zones where Maoists are running “Janatana Sarkars”. A document says Naxals are even collecting “revolutionary” taxes from villagers in the areas under their control. A large share of the extortion money goes into the acquisition of weapons and explosives from the “grey arms market”, while some amount is being spent for the daily needs of the armed cadre.
The security forces said a special investigation team should spearhead action to neutralise Maosits’ two major sources of fund -- basic infrastructure and mining sectors.
“They should be provided with state protection and the security forces should instil confidence in them so that they inform the forces when an extortion notice is served.”
Another suggestion is that the money being siphoned off from the government’s development schemes should be closely monitored.