The newly elected General Secretary of CPI (Maoist), Ganapathy, in a recent interview, declared that the recently concluded Congress of the Party had "decided to take the guerrilla war to a higher level of mobile war in the areas where guerrilla war is in an advanced stage and to expand the areas of armed struggle to as many states as possible." Ganapathy, a seasoned guerilla leader, did not allow anyone to take him lightly and this was made evident during the 48 hour Maoist economic blockade on 26 and 27 June. The two-day Naxal programme is being largely seen as part of a larger Maoist agenda to resist the government agenda on the Special Economic Zones (SEZs). In the same interview, Ganapathy clearly stated that "we shall be in the forefront of every people's movement. The Congress has decided to take up struggles against the SEZs which are nothing but neo-colonial enclaves on Indian territory."
There were only a few violent incidents during the Naxal call of economic blockade, but what is more important is the change in the Naxal game plan which the government completely failed to read following which it watched helplessly as the Naxals targeted trains, communication and transportation networks and mining companies. On 26 June, the Naxals tried to blow up a BSNL communication tower in the Malkangiri district of Orissa. For the third time in a month, the Naxals targeted BSNL communication towers in the district, having earlier tried to blow up such installations at Kalimela and MV-79 village. Biramdih railway station in West Bengal's Purulia district was raided by about 50 guerrillas who set on fire the stationmaster's cabin and totally destroyed the signaling system. In Bihar, the Naxals reportedly blasted a railway control room near Mehsi railway station in East Champaran. Andhra Pradesh was relatively calm though the Maoists did set fire to a bus.
Jharkhand, on the other hand, incurred a loss of around Rs.1.5 billion. Rs.300 million was reportedly lost by the railways due to cancellation of goods and passenger trains. The economic blockade disrupted coal and iron ore production and transport, amounting to a loss of around Rs.600 million. Similarly, traders from the import and export business were forced to bear a loss of around Rs.500 million. Another Rs.45 million was lost as buses and trucks remained off the road. In Bastar region of Chhattishgarh, two Salwa Judum leaders were reportedly killed, while the guerrillas also managed to halt the transportation of iron ore from Dantewada district's Bailadila hills to Visakhapatnam by damaging railway tracks. Hundreds of trucks were seen standing idle on the national highways as transporters decided to keep their vehicles off the road. While the Naxals forcefully made their presence felt, life came to a stand still in the Narayanpur, Bijapur, Bastar, Kanker and Dantewada districts of the Bastar region.
Just a week before the Naxals imposed this economic blockade, the top ranking police officers of the four Naxal-hit states of Andhra Pradesh, Chhattishgarh, Orissa and Jharkhand met at Vishakhapatnam to discuss the changed strategy of the Naxals. However, during the Naxal blockade the police were completely on the back foot. Other than patrolling, there was nothing that the police could do and even patrolling could not prevent the Naxals from going ahead with their agenda. Of course, the police may claim that there was no major casualties reported but bloodshed was not on the Naxal agenda. As part of their changed strategy, Naxals wanted to create maximum impact with minimum damage.
It has been quite some time since the Naxals realized that in the wake of massive force deployment by the government, they could not continue with the traditional methods of guerilla war. They, therefore, decided to adopt 'mobile war' as their new strategy. Ganapathy himself is the Chief of the 'Mobile Operations' and Ganesh, the Secretary of the Andhra Orissa Border Special Zonal Committee (AOBSZC) is his deputy. As part of their changed strategy, the Naxals aim to paralyze normal life by attacking the communication, transportation, railway and other essential establishments. They have also learnt that the economic development strategy of the country has created a sense of alienation among certain sections of society and have eyed such alienated groups. The government must try to win over these sections before it is too late. 'Time bound development with target orientated implementation' would definitely fill the gap, which so far has only provided a breeding ground for the extremists. Similarly, police modernization should not be limited to the procurement of arms and ammunitions only; security agencies must work on their intelligence network, and a 'unified command' for the forces at the ground level would solve much operational confusion among the various agencies. While a genuine 'Relief and Rehabilitation Policy' with guaranteed implementation is the need of the hour, it is however, time to end failed initiatives like Salwa Judum.