In an attempt to attract more unemployed youths into their armed fight, the Maoists have started shelling out Rs 3,000 to each of their cadre as salary and a cut of the extortion money, say Union Home Ministry officials.
The strategy of the Maoist leadership to give monetary incentives to the cadres has led to many unemployed youngsters hailing from backward areas in the Naxal-hit states joining the movement, officials say.
"It is a matter of concern. Acute poverty coupled with lack of job opportunities is turning many youths to Naxalism. They get Rs 3,000 as monthly remuneration and a cut of the extortion money they collect," a Home Ministry official said.
The extremists extort money to the tune of Rs 1,400 crore annually as they operate in mineral-rich areas where hundreds of industries are located.
Due to fear of attacks and in return of security from the Maoists, many of the industries, businessman, contractors and even some government officials in the Maoist-affected territories give extortion money to them.
"They can now bring many sectors of Indian economy to their knees. But they don't want to do it today. They know that if they do that now, the state will come very hard on them. They are not fully prepared to face the onslaught of the state machinery. So, they would rather go very slowly," Home Secretary Gopal K Pillai had said recently.
As a counter to the Maoist strategy, the government has taken up 34 districts in eight states as focus areas as all of them had high incidence of Naxal violence.
Besides, the Home Ministry is also trying to build capacity in the state police forces and helping them with deployment of central forces, sharing intelligence, training support and inter-state coordination.
During the past six months, security forces were able to take control of around 4,000 sq km area from Naxals and restore civil administration there. However, this is not much as about 40,000 sq km of area is now being dominated by the Maoists.
A total of 908 people have lost their lives last year, the highest since 1971, in Naxal violence and the security agencies feel that violence may go up this year and the next year. PTI