The Intelligence Bureau in January started sending out directives to state police departments and central law enforcement and investigative agencies, asking them to monitor the activities of Naxalites and their supporters and sympathisers on the internet, especially the Dark Web.

HT has reviewed a copy of the directive.

Two senior law enforcement officials, who asked not to be named, said this is a follow-up of the Prime Minister's instruction in early December to agencies and police departments to set up teams to track the online activities of Left Wing Extremists (LWEs) and their supporters.

Specifically, they added, the instruction, which came during the Intelligence Bureau's DGsP/IGsP conference in Pune from December 6 to 8, asked the agencies to unearth international linkages of Naxalites and intellectuals connected to them — often termed urban naxals — by analysing their internet activities and collecting data on their trips abroad.

He also asked police and intelligence agencies to re-evaluate the surrender policies for LWEs to make sure only genuine naxals benefit from the incentives this policy offers.

Currently, in different states, surrendering LWES get various benefits such as stipends, one-time payments and vocation training. The police departments were also asked to conduct an in-depth study of the supply chains used by LWEs for money, arms and ammunition, even food, and to disrupt these.

The annual DGsP/IGsP conference is attended by chiefs of all state police forces and agencies to discuss issues related to internal and external security including insurgency in the North East, terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir, the threat of left wing extremism, cyber crimes, narcoterrorism, new laws and ways to improve law enforcement.

Various NDA ministers and BJP functionaries have targeted urban naxals in the past. The Prime Minister himself has said in some rallies that urban naxals, from the comfort of their air-conditioned homes, remotely control locals, especially tribals, in areas affected by left wing extremism.

According to one of the two officials, the Prime Minister also asked the agencies to create a database of villagers from extremism affected areas who live in cities/towns so that they can be used to carry back messages of development and other positive information; preventing young people from being attracted to Naxalism.

"Targeting the ideological network of left wing extremists will yield better results as funding, recruitment in cities and propaganda activities are handled by these people. Following the PM's address at the DGsP/IGsP conference, there will be more visible action on urban naxals in coming years", said the second officer.

To be sure, civil society activists have argued that the government has made a habit of targeting activists and intellectuals with a different point of view (than the state) and who work with underprivileged people and tribals in left wing extremism affected areas. They maintain that these activists largely focus on protecting the rights of the locals.

During his interaction in December, the PM also asked the agencies to monitor the activities of pro-left wing extremism propagators in the Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka tri-junction, according to the officials.

He further directed that a team of five to seven officers, who are academically inclined, should study the modus operandi, means of radicalisation and methods of reintegrating left wing extremists in society.