Bengaluru: Over the years, there have been several reports that have raised concerns about the rise of naxalism and radicalisation in Kerala. With the help of Chinese supplied arms smuggled in from Sri Lanka, the naxals have been trying to set up a strong base in Kerala.

In the wake of this emerging threat, a report has now been submitted by the Comptroller an Auditor General of India that funds meant for anti naxal operations in Kerala were diverted to procure vehicles for VIP security. The state police diverted funds meant for bettering operations in naxal infested areas to procure vehicles for VIP security, the CAG report tabled in the Kerala Assembly read.

The report:

The report also speaks about the missing firearms and cartridges missing from the department. The bid to cover this up was also raised in the report. The CAG also said that the police department does not have the full complement of vehicles as required under the Bureau of Police Research and Development. The guidelines of modernisation of police force scheme in procurement of vehicles for VIP security were violated, the report also noted.

Instead of purchasing bullet resistant vehicles for deployment in naxal affected areas, the police purchased such vehicles for VIP security. Under the guise of Mobile Command and Control Vehicles, the police procured high-end luxury cards.

The state police chief diverted Rs 2.81 crore meant for the construction of upper subordinate quarters for the construction of villas for top officials.

Naxal operations weakened:

The forests of Palakkad, Malappuram, Idukki and Wayanad have reported heavy naxal activity over the years. The operations suffered here due to the dependance of the police on analog communication equipment.

This was due to the fact that the state government failed to pay for the spectrum charges on time and get a licence from the Centre to procure digital mobile radios. The CAG said that while taking stock at the Thiruvananthapuram Special Armed Police Battalion, it was revealed that there is a shortage of 25 INSAS riffles and 12,061 live cartridges. 

A preliminary probe was ordered by the Crime Branch and it was found that there was a bid to cover up the missing of live cartridges by replacing them with dummy cartridges. Instead of addressing the shortfall in number of vehicles in police stations, 15% of the Light Motor Vehicles procured by the department were luxury cards and were deployed for use of high level officers and non operational units.

Compromising national security:

Intelligence Bureau officials said that Kerala has always been notorious for compromising national security. The fight against both naxalites and radicalisation have always been hard-hearted. The politics always comes to the fore, while dealing with such issues, the officer noted.

Former officer with the Research and Analysis Wing, Amar Bhushan told MyNation that for long officials never got a free hand to operate in the Southern states, especially Kerala. There are parties which latch on to the support of Muslim dominated parties and hence the support has been very less.

The IB officer cited above also said that in Kerala, most of the naxal sightings have been in Malappuram, Wayanad and Palakkad. Several reports have been filed by us, but it has grown considerably and the CAG report is a damning example of why, the officer noted.

The southern corridor:

Naxals who have been routed in the states of Jharkhand and Chattisgarh gradually began moving down south. Their first stop was Kerala in a bid to build a southern corridor. The naxals began by targeting the plantation workers and declared support to them in Nilambur.
It began with four members of the naxal group visiting the Plantation Corporation of Kerala and distributing notices and posters.

From here they went looking for the un-explored jungles and set up training camps. The forests of Palakkad, Malappuram, Idukki and Wayanad became their home. The naxalites then began procuring arms. One of the main routes that the naxalites used was near Nagapattinam, which is at the end of the Salt Pan area of the Kodikkarai fishing port.

A dossier shows that Chinese agents operating in Sri Lanka would facilitate the movement of arms and ammunition into these ports. Once the arms would land at this port, it would be smuggled to Kerala and the arms would be supplied to the naxalites. 

The dossier notes that the arms have been coming in for long. It began around 2008 and this is a clear indicator that the naxalites have been trying to set up a base in Kerala since then with the intention of forming a strong southern corridor.