Insurgents flee the monsoon-drenched forests for local villages, where they pressure locals and seek new recruits.
Although the annual monsoon is a boon for Indian farmers, it also brings dangers for residents of areas impacted by the Maoist insurgency. The militants, dubbed Naxalities, leave the rain-drenched forests during this season and retreat to villages, where they hold meetings and plan future strategies.
"We are in a catch-22 situation," Jharkhand villager Paresh Mahato told Khabar South Asia. "On the one hand, we are forced to shelter the Maoists against our wishes. On the other, the police suspect us of conniving with the extremists. We are forced to provide food and shelter to the Maoists, even though we do not have enough to feed our family."
For security personnel, the rains pose a challenge. Severe flooding in the northeast has kept them busy with relief operations, leaving insufficient manpower for fighting the insurgency. An estimated 2 million people have been displaced in the area due to the floods, with Guwahati, the capital of Assam, being hit especially hard.
In West Bengal, meanwhile, soggy fields and jungles hamper troop movements.
"Even two months ago, police forces could march through the jungles, but now that has become extremely difficult because of the monsoon," West Midnapore superintendent of police (SP) Sunil Chowdhury told Khabar. "The dense forests are practically inaccessible and that has really affected anti-Maoist operations in this area."
Holed up in villages such as Belpahari and Lalgarh, the insurgents have bullied local leaders and sought to lure new recruits into the Maoist cause, authorities say.
"The Maoists are taking advantage of the situation. They have launched training and recruitment programmes," West Bengal Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Western Zone, Gangeshwar Singh told Khabar. "The security forces are unable to track them because of the rains; hence vigilance is more or less restricted. However, the police are working on a different strategy to tackle the problem."
S N Bhagat, the IGP for Jharkhand, insists that progress against the insurgents can be made despite the deluge.
"The operation against the Maoists will not be discontinued simply owing to the monsoon," he told Khabar. "Last monsoon, Maoists were flushed out from Saranda in West Singhbhum district."
"If that difficult operation was possible, then this year too, it can be achieved elsewhere in the state," he said.
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