Concerted efforts needed to deal Maoist insurgents a death blow : The Tribune India

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Concerted efforts needed to deal Maoist insurgents a death blow

Development, the biggest enemy of Maoists, has gained a firm foothold in the areas dominated by them.

Concerted efforts needed to deal Maoist insurgents a death blow

Crackdown: Arms and other items recovered by security personnel after an encounter with Naxalites in Chhattisgarh’s Bijapur district last week. PTI


Former IG, CRPF

RECENT encounters between the security forces and Maoists have had a debilitating effect on the Naxalite movement.

Twelve Maoists were killed after a fierce encounter with the joint forces, comprising commandos of CoBRA (Commando Battalion for Resolute Action), the District Reserve Guard (DRG), Special Task Force (STF), the Bastariya Battalion and the CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force), in Pedia forests in Bijapur on May 10, taking the toll of Maoists this year to 103.

On April 16, in one of the biggest encounters in recent years, 29 Maoists were killed when a combined force of the Border Security Force and DRG raided their hideout in the forests adjoining Binagunda and Koragutta villages of Kanker district bordering Maharashtra. Among the dead were Maoist leaders Shankar Rao and Lalita Meravi, who together carried a reward of Rs 8 lakh on their heads. Sophisticated weapons like AK-47 rifles, INSAS rifles, carbines and a huge haul of ammunition were recovered.

Thirteen Maoists were killed in an encounter with the combined forces of CoBRA, CRPF and the Chhattisgarh Police in Kendra-Karcholi forests of Bijapur district on April 2. Among the weapons recovered were a light machine gun, a .303 rifle, three under-barrel grenade launchers, a 12-bore gun and a huge quantity of ammunition and explosives.

With greater pressure exerted on their hideouts in forests, the Maoists are on edge, coming out in large numbers to surrender lest they get killed in encounters.

As many as 18 Maoists of Bhairamgarh and Malanger area committees, including three women, surrendered before the CRPF and the Dantewada Police on

April 24. Earlier, six Maoists of the Dandakaranya special zone committee surrendered before the Andhra Pradesh Police on April 22. Sixteen others surrendered in Bijapur on April 30, followed by over 30 more in Dantewada on May 5, taking the total number of surrendered Maoists to nearly 200 this year. Over 800 Maoists have surrendered in the past two years, while 125 have been arrested.

Though all left-wing extremism-affected states have their own surrender policy in place, the Chhattisgarh Government is formulating a new policy that may lure many more Maoists to surrender in the days ahead.

The fact that the security forces have gained an upper hand in recent months is evident from the figures of casualties among Maoists this year. The death of 103 Maoists this year, killed in various operations till

May 10, far surpasses last year’s toll of 22. In 2022, the figure stood at 30. The number of Maoists killed was 65 in 2019, 36 in 2020 and 47 in 2021. The security forces have enough reasons to gloat over the success achieved this year, though they lost six of their men. As of May 10, a total of 21 civilians had died in Maoist violence this year, while 41 others had lost their lives last year.

The credit for the success achieved in various operations goes to the intelligence agencies that shared accurate, specific and timely information about the movements of Maoists with the security forces. Hitherto, intelligence inputs were either lacking or vague. How would one explain that intelligence agencies were caught off guard when a combined force of CoBRA, CRPF, DRG and STF of Chhattisgarh Police personnel was attacked by over 500 Maoists near Tekulagudem village along the Sukma-Bijapur border on January 30? Three CRPF men, including two from CoBRA, were martyred in the attack, while 15 were injured.

The penetration of the security forces into the citadel of Maoists in Abujmad area has unnerved them, forcing them to shift. Nearly 200 new camps have been established by the security forces since last year in Chhattisgarh, where Maoists called the shots. With 17 other forward base camps in Abujmad area, the Maoists find themselves confined to limited areas. This has not only instilled confidence and a sense of security among the villagers but also proved conducive to the easy flow of intelligence inputs to the security forces. It has cut short the time for the forces to rush to any location on receipt of intelligence inputs and reduced the risk involved in travelling long distances.

Development, the biggest enemy of Maoists, has gained a firm foothold in the areas dominated by them. Villagers now have access to better health and education facilities. The construction of roads, which was almost impossible in these areas, is finally happening in these villages and connected cities. According to the Ministry of Home Affairs, 9,356 km of roads have been laid in these areas in the last eight years. Several security personnel, mostly CRPF, sacrificed their lives guarding the roads and the navvies while they were being laid. Maoists tried to obstruct the construction of roads by killing contractors and workers, planting IEDs, attacking the forces and setting machines on fire.

Now that the Maoists are on the back foot, it is time for the security forces to hit them hard through incessant operations based on specific and accurate intelligence inputs. The Maoists are now believed to be reduced to just about 2,500 in strength. With their morale low, the thrust must be on arranging large-scale surrenders.

Latest reports indicate that Maoist movements have been observed in Kerala, Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka, which must coordinate with other Maoist-affected states for intelligence inputs and ensure that they do not get a foothold. The revival of Maoist violence in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana cannot be ruled out, as most of their leaders happen to be from these states. Concerted and sustained efforts to crush the Maoists will prevent youngsters from joining their ranks and thus dry up their sources of recruitment. The day may not be far when the nation will rejoice that the citadel of Maoists has finally crumbled.

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