Forces are tak­ing stock of strike ca­pac­ity and will start fresh counter­in­sur­gency op­er­a­tions in the next 48 to 72 hours

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - - FRONT PAGE - Ritesh Mishra

The gov­ern­ment sus­pended on Sat­ur­day all road con­struc­tion work in Ch­hat­tis­garh’s Bastar for two weeks and said se­cu­rity forces would fo­cus on hit­ting back at Maoists for killing 25 sol­diers in an am­bush ear­lier this week.

Sources told Hin­dus­tan Times that the forces — Cen­tral Re­serve Po­lice Force, Cen­tral In­dus­trial Se­cu­rity Force, Indo-ti­betan Bor­der Po­lice and Bor­der Se­cu­rity Force — were tak­ing stock of strike ca­pac­ity and in­tel­li­gence, and would start fresh counter-in­sur­gency op­er­a­tions in the re­gion within the next 48-72 hours.

“We will con­cen­trate on op­er­a­tions now and all the forces will be en­gaged in that only,” said DM Awasthi , spe­cial di­rec­tor gen­eral (Naxal op­er­a­tions).

Nearly a third of the 30,000 se­cu­rity men in the re­gion are de­ployed to pro­tect road con­struc­tion work­ers and con­trac­tors — and these sol­diers will now be shifted to di­rect anti-maoist op­er­a­tions.

The late-evening an­nounce­ment came five days after the para­mil­i­tary force suf­fered a re­verse in south Sukma when sol­diers over­see­ing a road con­struc­tion — called a “road open­ing party” — were am­bushed and killed by Maoists.

An al­most-iden­ti­cal at­tack on another road open­ing party just miles away had killed 12 CRPF men in March.

The back-to-back at­tacks proved that de­spite gov­ern­ment forces gain­ing sig­nif­i­cant ground over the past decade and a sharp fall in vi­o­lence, Maoist rebels still con­trolled vast swathes of the heav­ily forested, sparsely pop­u­lated ter­rain where state ad­min­is­tra­tion is of­ten prac­ti­cally ab­sent.

The lat­est of­fen­sive is seen as a move to wipe out in­sur­gents from the re­gion.

Awasthi told HT that the forces were plan­ning to hit back, based on spe­cific in­tel­li­gence in­puts. “We need the force for op­er­a­tions now for the next few days.” The fresh op­er­a­tions will oc­cur based on fresh in­tel­li­gence and in co­or­di­na­tion with gov­ern­ments of Te­lan­gana, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and Ma­ha­rash­tra.

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