New Delhi: Naxalites have increased the `levy` taken from traders and locals to meet the rise in prices of arms and ammunition procured by them to fight the security forces.
Documents seized by central security agencies in some of the recent Naxal operations suggest that the levy, which is usually between five to ten per cent of the income, has been increased by about two percent.
This, sources said, could be primarily because either the central leadership of the left-wing extremists has felt the need for more income or it could also be the handiwork of smaller units of Naxals trying to make extra money.
The `levy`, a kind of commission or protection money charged from businessmen and others in Naxal-infested areas, is a money spinner for the Naxals with annual revenue of over Rs 1,500 crore.
It is not only paid by the contractors working in the areas dominated by the Naxals but also by the industrial houses, including some of nationally reputed firms, the sources said.
Even the name of former Jharkhand chief minister Madhu Koda is doing the circles of security agencies for allegedly paying off huge amounts to Naxals on a regular basis.
Sources said the levy could have been increased because of shift in Naxal strategy as they are now increasingly looking at acquisition of foreign-made arms than just depending on weapons looted from the security forces.
Taking the example of Jharkhand, sources said though CPI (Maoist) still remains the prominent Naxal group, there are other splinter groups which too have now started imposing `levy` besides indulging in kidnapping, looting and narcotics trade, which results in around Rs 300 crore as annual income only from the state.
If a conservative estimate is taken of the income generated from `levy` in the seven most Naxal-infested states -- Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Bihar, West Bengal and Maharashtra -- security agencies feel the collection from these areas, which are commonly referred to as `red corridor`, amounts to nearly Rs 1,500 crore.
While the levy is charged on a monthly or annual basis, the Naxals demand money from industries functioning in the areas "as and when they need" and even issue receipts for the same.
At times, the levy is charged not only in cash but also in kind as revealed by the arrest of officials of a Delhi- based construction firm, having projects in Naxal area, earlier this year. They had allegedly procured communication devices and bullet-proof jackets for the left wing extremists.