Anti-naxal forces sent to bat­tle­field Ch­hat­tis­garh

MAS­SIVE OP­ER­A­TION 10,000 per­son­nel in Bas­tar; Shinde to visit state to­day

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - HT Navi Mumbai Live - - FRONT PAGE - HT Cor­re­spon­dent let­ters@hin­dus­tan­times.com

NEW DELHI: The Ch­hat­tis­garh po­lice sup­ported by CRPF bat­tal­ions on Thurs­day launched op­er­a­tions to en­gage 2,500 armed Maoist rebels and lo­cal mili­tia in the jun­gles of Bas­tar even as per­pe­tra­tors of the May 25 at­tack were be­lieved to be mov­ing to­wards Malkangiri in Odisha. The am­bush had left 28 peo­ple, in­clud­ing sev­eral Con­gress­men, dead.

About 5,000 state po­lice per­son­nel and five CRPF bat­tal­ions (about 5,000 men) started comb­ing the forests in Bas­tar — the no­to­ri­ous hide­out of nax­als — with 5.56mm INSAS ri­fles and com­mu­ni­ca­tion gear. Be­sides hunt­ing for 150 armed Maoists, they will try to get the main ac­cused of the May 25 at­tack: Vinod Sema, sec­re­tary of the CPI-ML’s Darba com­mit­tee, and Mad­kami Sema alias Suren­dra.

Home min­is­ter Sushil Kumar Shinde told HT he would visit Ch­hat­tis­garh on Fri­day to re­view anti-Naxal op­er­a­tions with the state govern­ment and para­mil­i­tary com­man­ders as well as meet the sur­vivors of the at­tack.

The Ch­hat­tis­garh Congress, mean­while, boy­cotted the all­party meet­ing called by chief min­is­ter Ra­man Singh to dis- cuss strat­egy to counter Maoist ter­ror. The anti-Maoist op­er­a­tions were launched af­ter the Ch­hat­tis­garh po­lice sub­mit­ted a plan in two days af­ter home sec­re­tary Raj Kumar Singh and other se­nior home min­istry of­fi­cials vis­ited the state.

Ac­cord­ing to state po­lice sources, Singh wanted to launch the counter-Maoist op­er­a­tion im­me­di­ately af­ter his visit but post­poned the plan af­ter the po­lice ad­mit­ted to gaps in its pen­e­tra­tion ca­pa­bil­i­ties in the thickly-forested ar­eas of Bas­tar.

While in­tel­li­gence agen­cies are track­ing the move­ment of var­i­ous fac­tions of Maoist rebels to­wards Odisha, the state po­lice and para­mil­i­tary forces are likely to adopt the ‘ham­mer-an­danvil strat­egy’ to counter them. This en­tails in­ject­ing at least four bat­tal­ions of para­mil­i­tary forces into the jun­gle to es­tab­lish a base, which is then fed through aerial sup­port, while the state po­lice sur­round the for­est.

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