THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The inclusion of three Kerala districts in the Ministry of Home Affairs' Left Wing Extremism affected areas will not only help the state formulate pre-emptive measures to stem the growth and influence of the armed groups, but it will come a long way in ensuring the intelligence chain that got ruptured after the encounter of two Naxal cadre in Nilambur forest two years ago is revived again.
Three northern districts of Palakkad, Wayanad and Malappuram were declared Naxal-affected areas by the Home Ministry recently. This notification will automatically enable the three districts to receive funds under the Security Related Expenditure (SRE) scheme where the Centre will bear the security-related expenses.
However, the intelligence gathering will be one such area that will get immediate attention once the funds start flowing, sources said. After the shootout in November 2016, the Maoist cadre have been avoiding using electronic gadgets and this has led to drying up of intelligence collection. Sources in the state intelligence said they have been forced to rely on human intelligence ever since. But the inadequate Secret Service fund (SS) has been an Achilles heel, blocking them from cultivating deep sources. The landing of funds under the SRE scheme will help enforcers go about their jobs of netting crucial informers with aplomb, sources in the intelligence wing said.
"Even the top officers were getting a paltry amount as SS fund. The amount is far less than what a lower-level employee in a private sector gets. Sometimes the informers have to be paid from the pocket of the top rung officials. As a result, there has been a break down in the intelligence network as moles and informers are the vital cogs and they need to be well paid," said an officer seeking anonymity.
When asked, DIG (internal security) Sparjan Kumar declined to comment on the SS fund paucity, but added three of the districts being included in the SRE scheme will help the forces counter the Naxalites efficiently. "With the funds, the developmental activities as well as the security apparatus can be enhanced. The funds can be used to strengthen the forces, to train them and collect information," he said.
Though Kerala has never witnessed a large-scale Naxal offensive, the confirmation of the presence of armed squads known as dalam and burgeoning activities of the frontal organisation suspected to have ideological link with the outlawed Naxal groups prompted the Centre to turn the lens to Kerala.
Sources in the Home department hinted they had intimation from the Centre earlier also regarding the movement of armed Naxal cadre in the tri-junction that concurred with the findings of the state intelligence wing. “It was on that basis the state government had requested the Centre to include five districts in SRE scheme,” sources added.
It's assessed strategic importance of tri-junction will be another reason behind the inclusion of three districts under the SRE scheme. Geographically, the area is tough to operate as the dense foliage at tri-junction gives perfect cover for those hiding in the area.