M A I N   N E W S

Inside the red zonePART-I
Maoists build a big army in Bastar
Tribune news service

‘Kuch bhi ho sakta hai’ (Anything can happen),” exclaims M S Dhoni from a hoarding as you drive into Dantewada town in South Bastar. The irony is not lost on viewers who fail to smile. It is eloquent and underscores the tension and uneasiness prevalent in the region.

“Either you depend on God or on Maoists to survive in Bastar,” a middle-aged transporter said stoically to this correspondent.

His 80-year-old father was equally grim. “Maybe not in my life time but my grandsons might see these Naxalities occupying towns like Dantewada and Jagdalpur,” he said. “If I get a demand for money to be paid to Maoists,” he added, “I have no option but to pay up.”

Bastar once was the largest district in the country, bigger than Kerala, Manipur and Nagaland. But to tackle the Maoist menace, Bastar has now been divided into five districts. That does not seem to have helped though.

The drive down the national highway from Raipur to Jagdalpur 300 kms away, through dense green jungles, hills and ghats, is deceptively normal. Life appears normal enough till one passes through smaller towns like Sukma and Orcha, where the uneasiness begins.

You get the unmistakable feeling that you are being watched. You find roads cut, culverts blown up and huge trees thrown to block traffic. Every night, five or six police stations simultaneously come under Naxal fire from three sides.

“When Bastar is so green, why are they making it red!” wonders a local poet in Dantewada which has witnessed gruesome Naxal violence this year, killing over 100 CRPF men.

In Chhattisgarh, the Maoists have announced the formation of their first parallel “revolutionary government.” They have declared the Chintalnar area in the Dantewada forests as their capital.

Fear is the new currency in Bastar. Green Bastar is turning red . People have little faith in security forces which are not adventurous enough to move inside the forests to hit the red rebels.

In official circles in the state capital there is a sense of resignation. From guerilla fighting, the red rebels are now getting ready for mobile or positional warfare, acknowledge officials. They have mined the interiors of Bastar to prevent free movement of para-military forces.

Maoists are busy raising an independent Brigade formation of highly trained and motivated 4,000 to 5,000 commandos for taking security forces head-on in Bastar. A number of ex-servicemen have also joined their ranks.

In their document , “Strategy and Tactics of the Indian Revolution”, known as the ‘red Bible’ in official circles, Maoists have made it clear that “the central task of the revolution is seizure of political power through people’s war and the goal is to seize power in Delhi by 2050-60.”





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