‘Most firearms today are country-made, either stolen from the forces or brought in illegally from other states and factories’.
New Delhi: The Naxalite movement, which occasionally has access to foreign-made weapons, is well-known in the Naxal zones of Bastar, Chhattisgarh. However, due to the tight security in the border zones, access to foreign-made weapons is currently difficult. As a result, most firearms today are country-made that are either stolen from security forces or brought in illegally from other states and factories.
“After encounters with Maoist cadres, we have mostly recovered many country-made weapons and those weapons which were looted from security forces by the Maoists. However, four to five years back, during an encounter, we had recovered a weapon with the inscription of POF, which was interpreted as Pakistan Ordnance Factories (POF) weapon by some experts. But there is no authentic documentation in this regard. We had also recovered a carbine weapon (most probably used during World War II time) during another encounter in and around the same period,” Inspector General of Police, Bastar, Sundarraj P. told The Sunday Guardian.
According to R.S.N. Singh, a former military intelligence officer, Naxalism has been China’s proxy war against India for more than a decade, and as a result, the Maoist movement in India is also influenced by external factors. From Kasaba, Haldia, and Naraingarh in Midnapore to Khantpara, Baripada in Odisha, and other locations, several Chinese weapons were inducted.
According to some reports, in 2018, the state police suspected that Chhattisgarh Maoists have access to high-tech foreign weapons through the northeast. As per reports, during an encounter with Naxals in Sukma district, a rifle with a “Made in Germany” mark was found on 2 May, and on 4 July, a submachine gun of US manufacture was recovered in Narayanpur district.
As per some surrendered Naxals, they sometimes exchange ideas with some anti-nationals, but do not follow their particular ideology. “As far as we know, several urban Naxals are also involved and help other Naxals in the training of making such explosive devices,” a surrendered Naxal told this correspondent on the condition of anonymity.
In 2010, Naxals killed some Special Police Officers (SPOs) who were traveling in a civilian bus with the help of IEDs that resembled the strikes of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) against Sri Lankan soldiers. They dug a tunnel on either side of the road to reach the cemented top from below and planted the IED accordingly. The sign of dredging markings from the sides of the road can be easily removed to avoid suspicion. With reference to this, Sundarraj P. added, “There is some speculation that the modus operandi of Improvised Explosive Device or IEDs used by the erstwhile People War Group faction of CPI Maoists and the IEDs used by the LTTE is quite similar.”
However, due to the strengthening security system, most of the Naxals are not able to access foreign-made weapons; also many illegal manufacturers in other states like Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh or Bihar make replicas of the international models. “In the Dandakaranya regions, most of the Naxals use country-made weapons these days. I remember once during encounters, we recovered a 300-400 Barrel Grenade Launcher (BGL). Most of the high-level commander committee members have access to foreign-made weapons and they somehow smuggle these weapons to lower commanders,” a police officer from Sukma said.