The Home Min­istry must take full con­trol with a 24 x 7 op­er­a­tions room and co­or­di­nate the counter Maoist op­er­a­tions in­clud­ing im­ple­men­ta­tion of a co­he­sive strat­egy en­com­pass­ing the politi­coeco­nomic-so­cio as­pects of the prob­lem


The au­da­cious at­tack by Nax­als on the Congress motorcade killing 27 in­clud­ing 10 po­lice­men and in­jur­ing some 36 on May 25 in Ch­hat­tis­garh yet again ex­posed our in­abil­ity to come to grips with the Maoist in­sur­gency and fail­ure to learn from pre­vi­ous in­ci­dents. Over 200 Maoists am­bushed a con­voy of Congress lead­ers in the dense for­est of Jag­dalpur in Ch­hat­tis­garh. The killed in­cluded for­mer Union Min­is­ter V.C. Shukla, Ch­hat­tis­garh Congress Chief Nand Kumar Pa­tel, se­nior leader Ma­hen­dra Karma and ex-MLA Uday Mudli­yar.

The National In­ves­ti­ga­tion Agency is prob­ing why this hap­pened. What may even­tu­ally get re­leased to me­dia may have var­i­ous com­pul­sions but the facts on ground are crys­tal clear. The fact is that no road open­ing was done in the first place and this was not pos­si­ble ei­ther with the Congress motorcade de­cid­ing on its own to re­turn along the same route. Send­ing a ve­hi­cle along the road in an hour or so in ad­vance can un­der no cir­cum­stances be con­sid­ered road open­ing. In any event, con­sid­er­ing the dis­tances, ad­e­quate num­ber of se­cu­rity forces were un­likely avail­able to do road open­ing along the en­tire route.

How­ever, it was pos­si­ble to do se­lec­tive pick­et­ing in­clud­ing es­sen­tially cov­er­ing all the likely am­bush points but this can only be un­der­taken by a well trained force that sites it­self tac­ti­cally that can de­ter pos­si­ble at­tack in large num­bers. Iron­i­cally, this was a won­der­ful am­bush site with curv­ing stretch of roads with dom­i­nat­ing heights pro­vid­ing long dis­tance ob­ser­va­tions. Only re­spec­tive PSOs of the politi­cians were ac­com­pa­ny­ing the motorcade with some car­ry­ing the an­cient 7.62mm SLRs dwarfed by the fire of the Maoists au­to­matic weapons. The ve­hi­cles were mov­ing bumper to bumper un­der the mis­per­cep­tion that the num­bered close­ness would draw strength from each other. This ac­tu­ally pro­vided the most lu­cra­tive tar­get to the Maoists who blew up the sec­ond lead ve­hi­cle through an IED blast, fol­lowed by heavy fir­ing and cold blooded mur­der. How many weapons of the ac­com­pa­ny­ing PSOs were taken away by the Maoists have not been re­vealed but it has emerged that Maoists could have en­sured that there are no sur­vivors were they not look­ing for only se­lected kills.

The Maoists, many of them women, were calm, me­thod­i­cal and un­af­fected by killings – akin to the LTTE. If this was a motorcade, in many pre­vi­ous in­ci­dents, par­tic­u­larly in Dan­te­wada, Garhchi­roli and Late­har, even CRPF col­umns on foot have suf­fered heavy ca­su­al­ties mov­ing bunched up in a sin­gle file along roads and tracks. This was a motorcade that for­tu­nately had less num­bers killed only be­cause the Maoists were in mer­ci­ful mood. Even ear­lier in­ci­dents have shown lit­tle or no co­or­di­na­tion be­tween the civil po­lice and the CRPF. The real in­tel­li­gence has to come from ground level with top down in­tel­li­gence only add on but the hard fact is that you can­not leave ev­ery­thing to chance in in­sur­gency af­fected ar­eas de­spite tac­ti­cal pauses in hos­til­i­ties.

A dis­pas­sion­ate anal­y­sis would show there are am­ple in­di­ca­tions that the Maoist in­sur­gency is on the rise. Rais­ing more po­lice forces and dish­ing out more cen­tral forces to the states with pe­ri­odic warn­ings (read in­tel­li­gence) to be on the alert has been a fail­ure and will con­tinue to be so. Cus­tom­ary Cen­treState blame game and politi­cis­ing ev­ery in­ci­dent is of no use. The Home Min­istry must take full con­trol with a 24 x 7 op­er­a­tions room and co­or­di­nate the counter Maoist op­er­a­tions in­clud­ing im­ple­men­ta­tion of a co­he­sive strat­egy en­com­pass­ing the politico-eco­nomic-so­cio as­pects of the prob­lem. It is time to ac­knowl­edge that our ex­ist­ing Cen­tral Armed Po­lice Forces are not geared to take on the Maoists. Th­ese units must be re­or­gan­ised, of­fi­cered, manned, equipped and trained like the Rashtriya Ri­fles or the As­sam Ri­fles. They must have of­fi­cers from their own cadre who should lead them from the front. It is re­ported that at least 1,000 more po­lice forces have been rushed to Bas­tar area. Cau­tion is needed to avoid col­lat­eral dam­age and in­no­cent killings at all costs.


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