In a fresh proposal, the Centre suggests direct intervention by the National Security Guards (NSG) during Maoist-triggered hostage crisis as releasing convicted rebels and those facing murder charges will be non-negotiable to protect national security.
This is one of the proposals sent to Maoist-affected states by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to deal with hostage situations effectively and in a uniform manner.
The draft Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) has been sent to Jharkhand, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Chhatisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharastra, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal for their comments and suggestions, which should reach the MHA by September 1.
If all the states put the stamp of approval in the seven-page draft report on SOP, any future hostage crisis will allow the direct intervention of the Centre, the Central Negotiating Team and the Special Operations Unit (NSG) to be co-opted into the State Crisis Management mechanism, says the SOP.
Why SOP is important to deal with Maoists?
According to the draft report, the Maoists and other Left Wing Extremists (LWE) have been resorting to abductions as a tactic to get their demands fulfilled. In the recent past, they have resorted to high profile abductions of district collectors, legislators, foreign nationals after their low-profile abductions did not get adequate space in the media.
The primary demand of the CPI (Maoist) in most abductions is the release of their jailed cadres. But they also seem to have realized that high profile abduction changes the dynamics of the offensive against them by the security forces.
During the period of hostage crisis, anti-naxal operations are unofficially suspended due to a hostage-taking incident, giving the Maoists time to intensively lay landmines in their areas of dominance.
Even after the hostage is release, it takes time to re-calibrate security operations against the Maoists. The CPI (Maoist) has realized the importance of abductions as a tactic and are likely to resort to it in future also.
It is the view of the (central) government that in cases relating to abductions by the Maoists, succumbing to their threats or conceding to their demands is counter-productive to national security. Therefore, in the event of hostage situation, the major demands of the hostage takers should not be concede.
Releasing convicted Maoist cadres and those facing murder charges will be non-negotiable. However, there should be no hesitation in conducting negotiations as the primary objecting in a hostage situation is to save the life of the hostage, without compromising on the above (not releasing hardcore Maoists).
Formulation of crisis management mechanism:
To deal with abduction by the Maoists, there should be a Central Crisis Management Group (CCMG), State Crisis Management Group (SCMG) and District Crisis Management Group (DCMG).
The composition of the groups
The CCMG members will comprise; Home Secretary (Chairman), additional Secretary, MHA (Convenor), Director, Intelligence Bureau, Director General, BSF, Director General, CRPF, Director General ITBP, Director General, NSG, Joint Secretary, MHA, Representative of any other ministry as per requirement and member of negotiating team.
The SCMG members will comprise; Chief Secretary (Chairman), Director General of Police (Convenor), Home Secretary, ADG/IG Special Branch, Joint Director, Intelligence Bureau, Relief Commissioner/Secy (DM/DC), Representative of any other member as per requirement and member of the negotiating team.
The DCMG group members will comprise; District Magistrate (or DC) (Chairman), Superintendent of Police (Convenor), representative of Subsidiary Intelligence Bureau, Deputy Development Commissioner/Additional DM, member of the negotiating team, representative of other departments like Health, PWD, Fire, Home Guards and others as per requirement.
The role of Crisis Management Groups:
- On the basis of information received from security/intelligence agencies, the relevant group should endeavour to establish the identity of the hostage takers, their profile, affiliation, linkages, etc.
- The group should analyze available intelligence inputs and forecast possible scenario and measures to deal with the situation.
- The group should evaluate the demands of hostage takers and take a view on the matter.
- The group should disseminate information to all concerned, including the political leadership, for instructions.
- The group should appoint interlocutors to negotiate with the abductors/their representatives. The negotiating team shall be briefed by the Group on the parameters of negotiations.
- The group should alert NSG/Quick Response Teams/Special Forces for a possible rescue operation.