Security forces in Chhattisgarh are on an all-out offensive against Maoists.
And the results are there for everyone to see — 63 Maoist commanders have been killed in 2017 alone, which is almost eight times higher than the casualties inflicted by the forces last year.
In 2016, eight Maoist leaders were killed in total, and there had been barely one or two deaths before that.
The forces are in no mood to relent. Only a major ‘head-on collision’ will work now in the fight to finish Maoists, said a top state police officer.
‘It’s no more fighting from the periphery, but all about entering the Maoists’ dens in their controlled areas, hitherto untouched, and kill top commanders.’
This is Prahar-II in Chhattisgarh, which delivered a clear message on Friday — ‘Finish those who oppose the path of development set by the Centre and the state government.’
In both Prahar-I and Prahar-II, for the first time in the state’s fight against the Left-Wing extremism, the state police and CRPF entered Maoist dens like Sukma, Dantewada, Bijapur, Narayanpur, Kanker, Bastar, Rajnandgaon and Kodagaon.
In places such as Abujhmand in Narayanpur district, where there is barely any sign of civil administration, security forces launched well-planned assaults.
So too were parallel attacks initiated in seven other districts under the Prahar-II operation, involving 2,500-odd security personnel.
The STF and Cobra units finished the Prahar-II operation with six scalps, including three with bounty on their heads.
An officer associated with the operation, however, believes that the number of those killed with bounty on their heads could be much higher as nearly 20 more bodies, believed to be of Maoists, await confirmation.
DM Awasthi, Special DG, anti-Maoist operations, Chhattisgarh Police, said: ‘It’s fight to finish. We can’t fight anymore from the periphery. It was unfortunate that after being on a high in 2016 and again in the beginning of 2017, we lost a lot of our men in two back-to-back Maoist attacks in March and April. Now it’s a head-on collision in their very dens.’
Senior officers of both police and CRPF credit the synergy between Union home minister Rajnath Singh and chief minister Raman Singh for the success, as they told the forces in no uncertain terms ‘to go for kill of top commanders opposing development and economic progress.’
A top police officer, requesting anonymity, said: ‘After losing 37 CRPF personnel in April Rajnath Singh arrived next morning at the spot and rather than asking why and how it happened, he simply said, “It is unfortunate. The past is past. But when are we going to kill the big commanders?”.’
The message from the top was clear, said Awasthi: ‘We regrouped, strategised and planned our first big offensive exactly after a month in May in Prahar-I and then followed it with Prahar-II on November 6 and fought a nearly five-day battle against Maoists which ended Friday evening.’
Adds Kuldeep Singh, ADG, CRPF (Central Zone) in Chhattisgarh: ‘Now the war we are fighting is more of the micro-level coordination in understanding one’s weaknesses and strengths and maximising the force multiplier effect in utilising the resources available.
‘Before heading for an operation, both STF and Cobra units spend time together in the camp understanding each other and striking the synergy required.’
State police and CRPF will be collecting intelligence and regrouping again after returning from Prahar-II on Friday to make the most of the time left this year and in next four to five months before rains start in May 2018.
‘It’s time to break the back from top and for that areas like Bijapur, Sukma and Naraynpur will have to be completely brought under our control. The numbers of commanders killed this year will rise as nearly 50 days are still left in this year,’ Awasthi said.
Meanwhile, the Maoist recruitments have dropped by 70-80 per cent in the last two years.
‘This year, it has been just about 123 new Maoists getting recruited as against usual 400-500 in previous years. Also, it is learnt that the top cadre strength has come down to nearly 1,000 as compared to 4,000 and more about three years ago,’ Awasthi added.
Daily Mail UK