It must keep an eye on Maoist, Islamist terror
June 2 is a red letter day for the people of Telangana. After a long, difficult and sometimes violent struggle stretched over decades, they have finally got the separate State they wanted. June 2 is also a red letter day for the rest of the country as it marks the deliverance of India's 29th State. The Government of Telangana, led by Telangana Rashtra Samithi chief K Chandrasekhar Rao, who was sworn into office as the State's first Chief Minister on Monday, will face many of the usual challenges that are there in raising a new-born baby. At one level, the Government will have to deal with basic management issues such as splitting the bureaucracy and allowing for a smooth transition of the state machinery. At another level, it will have to keep its eyes on the larger picture to fulfil the hopes and aspirations of the people. In between, there are several issues that will require the Government's immediate attention: Primary among these is the twin menace of Maoism and Islamist fundamentalism — both of which were red-flagged by the BN Srikrishna Committee, set up by the Union Government to advise on the creation of Telangana.
A glance over the map of Telangana shows how the newly formed State contains most of the Red terror hot spots from where trouble had emanated across a united Andhra Pradesh. According to a 2010 Andhra Pradesh police handbook, of the 408 wanted Maoist commanders, 140 of them belonged to the two districts of Warangal and Karimnagar, both of which are now part of Telangana. In fact, of the top 13 leaders who make up the Maoist politburo, six hail from Karimnagar while the remaining are from Warangal. Also, the location of Telangana — its northern area is at a crossroads of red zones in the neighbouring States of Odisha, Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra — make it an ideal launch pad for inter-State terror attacks. Maoists on the run from other States are also sure to use Telangana either as a transit route or a safe haven. To make matters worse, the security forces, which had previously all but eradicated the Maoist menace from Andhra Pradesh, will now be stretched thin, thereby weakening their defences. The Greyhound forces, which were raised to counter the Maoists and had registered success against the ultras in recent years, will also be split. Another area of concern is that many known Maoist sympathisers were seen at the forefront of the pro-Telangana agitation. Moreover, the trajectory of Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand, both of which have struggled with Maoism ever since they were carved out of Madhya Pradesh and Bihar respectively, hardly offers any comfort.
Another problem spot for Telangana will be the Islamists. The sprawling metropolis of Hyderabad has turned into a hub of Islamist terror activities. Almost any terror activity in India can be traced back to Hyderabad these days. Experts believe that the city hosts several sleeper cells which have been carefully cultivated over the years. Some of these are one-man outfits and prone to wanton acts of terror. Hyderabad itself has also been the target of terror attacks in recent times; in February last year, 17 people were killed when bombs went off in Dilsukhnagar, which had been targeted in 2007 as well.