NEW DELHI: After an initial setback to their funding post-the note ban, Naxalites are using local population, businessmen and industries to launder money collected through extortion, kidnapping, drugs and other illegal means. “We suspect that to run the Red war machine, new notes were delivered to the well-designed hierarchical system of Maoists, travelling from the bottom of zonal committees to reach top command levels.
Grassroots inputs must be integrated into our anti-black money strategy by focusing on the big fish without any delay to prevent Maoists from obtaining fresh funds,” sources said.
In areas under their control, Naxals levy ‘taxes’ on small enterprises such as mills, transporters, beedi units, rice and flour mills, grocery stores, private hospitals and liquor shops.
According to sources, after the demonetisation announcement, the ultras have struck deals with mine owners, industrialists operating in Naxal-affected areas, smugglers and liquor and timber contractors to obtain newly minted money. A source pointed out the cost of Naxalite terror ops is relatively low compared to the damage they inflict, and the opportune moment to cut off their revenue streams has arrived.
“No one generally realises that just `125-130 crore is enough to run insurgency in 10 states, though it is not necessarily the authentic figure. Although we have tasked a unit in the intelligence apparatus to look into the flow of money, post-demonetisation, the inputs are sketchy,” said a senior official.
Catching Naxal sympathisers, front organisations and overground workers before they legitimise funds presents unique challenges, said a senior security official, claiming the government is taking steps to target individuals and groups, suspected of being involved in Maoist terror financing by using Standard Operating Procedures (SoPs). For example, they plan ruthless crackdowns on the mining and public works sectors, which involve private contractors who provide huge sums as protection money. The SoPs seek “close monitoring of known sources of finances, including big industries and registering criminal cases against sources of finance.” The directive reviewed by Express clearly suggests “penalising government servants and businessmen, irrespective of their economic standing, for paying extortion money”.