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One More Big Strike By Maoists In India – Analysis

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“There is no time for the security forces to take it easy. It is a trend on part of the Maoists to hit back when it is the least expected.”

This is what I wrote in my previous post while analysing the relative low level of violence by the Maoists on 15 August, India’s 65 Independence Day. And as if to prove me right, Maoists struck big within four days. On 19 August, the day Afghanistan capital Kabul witnessed the killing of ten people-mostly security force personnel- in a Taliban attack on the British Council compound and Jamrud, a key town in Pakistan’s Khyber agency saw an explosion in a mosque offering Friday prayers in the holy month of Ramadan killing over 50 people and injuring scores of others, the extremists struck big in the Chhattisgarh state killing 10 policemen and a civilian.

India map showing the districts where the Naxalite movement is active (2007)
India map showing the districts where the Naxalite movement is active (2007)

It was yet again a display of two synchronised and simultaneous attacks by the Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) cadres in the Bijapur district. At Metlacheru, the extremists attacked a team of police personnel on its way to Bhopalpatnam, a little after 5pm. Fortunately there were no casualties.

Half an hour later, another ambush took place near Bhadrakali, around three kilometres from the site of the first attack. 10 policemen and a tractor driver were dead in the attack. The dead were part of a 70-member team that had gone to a Bhadrakali police station to drop rations and were ambushed on their way back. The team was walking behind a tractor when the Maoists opened fire. Police claimed that four Maoists too were killed in the exchange of fire. No dead body was, however, recovered. Police claimed that the rebels took away their dead colleagues. Police also claims that no weapons were lost, although such a claim looks doubtful.

Providing rations to police stations located in remote areas is an elaborate procedure in all the Maoist affected areas and the large entourage of policemen deployed for the exercise in regular intervals is always vulnerable to such attacks. The danger is more when Maoists get to know the schedule of the policemen.

Recent reports have indicated at the possibility of the Maoists infiltrating the ranks of the policemen in neighbouring state of Maharashtra. Confidential police documents were recovered from the home of an arrested senior cadre in Pune. A similar possibility can not be ruled out in Chhattisgarh, which has carried out large scale recruitment of police personnel, often by lowering the qualifying norms.

Chhattisgarh is also planning to induct about 4500 vigilante members of the Salwa Judum movement as regular policemen after the Supreme Court disbanded the movement. The Salwa Judum cadres have been accused of large scale human rights violations. The Central Government in New Delhi, however, remains supportive of the movement and has decided to file a review petition in the Supreme Court.

In any event, the intelligence network of the Maoists is known to be somewhat better than that of the security forces. To add to the woes of the police, Maoists have systematically targeted the police informers in all the states under their influence. In the first seven months of 2011, 72 such police informers were killed by the Maoists across the country.

It is too early to fault the entourage for not adhering to the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). Going by the reports available, they were walking behind a tractor, using the vehicle as a protection shield. Under the prevailing circumstances, it would appear that they were indeed going by the SOPs laid down.

However, there is certainly a problem with the state’s anti-Maoist strategy, which appears to be undergoing a process of overhauling under the newly appointed police chief. A sound intelligence gathering system remains non-existent in the state thereby exposing the security force personnel to such attacks. In stead of addressing these operational loopholes, the state appears to be engaging in grand designs of defeating by launching state wide operations.

The state of affairs would not improve till a course correction is effected. Maoists will retain the ability to carry out such attacks demoralising the security forces.

This article first appeared at http://warantiwar.blogspot.com/2011/08/one-more-big-strike-by-maoists-in-india.html

Dr. Bibhu Prasad Routray

Dr. Bibhu Prasad Routray

Dr. Bibhu Prasad Routray served as a Deputy Director in the National Security Council Secretariat, Government of India and Director of the Institute for Conflict Management (ICM)’s Database & Documentation Centre, Guwahati, Assam. He was a Visiting Research Fellow at the South Asia programme of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore between 2010 and 2012. Routray specialises in decision-making, governance, counter-terrorism, force modernisation, intelligence reforms, foreign policy and dissent articulation issues in South and South East Asia. His writings, based on his projects and extensive field based research in Indian conflict theatres of the Northeastern states and the left-wing extremism affected areas, have appeared in a wide range of academic as well policy journals, websites and magazines.

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