NEW DELHI: The Narendra Modi Government is planning to launch spectacular psychological operations - or PsyOps - to prevent recruitment by Naxals and to wean away the hardcore cadres who now want to surrender.
The psychological warfare will use sight and sound as the government’s primary weapon to counter the Naxalites’ propaganda in Maoist affected states with carefully crafted live performances by drama troupes, programmes on All India Radio (AIR), posters by the Directorate of Advertising and Visual Publicity (DAVP) and TV shows by Doordarshan, to discourage tribals from joining the Maoist movement.
A meeting of top government officials on July 16 finalised various vehicles of communication to reach out to a substantial population living on the margins of society through government development plans including MNREGA, Awas Yojna, Aangabadi, old age pension schemes, widow pension schemes, free education for girls, mid-day meals and other social scheme to ensure their uplift.
The Naxals, considered the biggest internal security threat, are believed to be operating in 76 districts across 10 states.
Though the government has deployed 108 battalions of security personnel comprising 134,667 men from 83 battalions of the Central Reserve Police Force, 15 battalions of the Border Security Force, five battalions of Indo-Tibet Border Police and five battalions of Sashatra Seema Bal in the Naxal affected areas, it wants to win the hearts of the tribals where the Naxals are operating.
Sources said that around 40 theatre troupes will conduct ‘Nukkad Natak’ (street plays) and cultural programmes in Chhattisgarh, Odisha and Jharkhand. The focus of the troupes - managed by the Song and Drama Division of the government - will be to convey the various ongoing schemes of the government and rights and entitlement of the people living in Maoist affected areas.
They said these performances will be persuasive as well as informative, while being entertaining. The troupes will be paid from the government budget for each performance.
“Maoists have been misleading people that the government is trying to usurp their land and not doing to enough for their welfare. This is absolutely rubbish. We want to reach out to those who have been ignored by the administration since Independence. There is a marked difference in development activities since last year, and hopefully the message will be conveyed through this innovative strategy,” an official said.
“The government hopes that these performances will become popular among the masses and is also planning to conduct an impact survey,” a source said.
Back to Radio
The government has identified AIR, private FM stations and community radio stations as important mediums to prepare programmes on various themes, including rights of tribals under Forest Rights Act, Panchayat (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act or PESA, success stories of tribals, educational programmes and advertisement of government viewpoints and welfare schemes.
The Centre has also asked the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting to supervise the scheme with regional centres of the AIR so that they can coordinate with states to avoid duplicity.
DD to the Rescue
The Centre has prepared four short films on Left-wing extremism and development issues related to Naxal-affected states to be telecast on Doordarshan, which has a wider reach in the hinterland.
The themes are likely to focus on problems being faced by tribals and villagers due to the Maoists.