Ahead of polls, spike in IED seizures in Chhattisgarh
Their increasing use points to changing Maoist tactics
There has been a 100 % increase in the number of Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) recovered in Chhattisgarh in 2018 compared to 2013, when the State last went to the polls.
While as many as 57 IEDs were recovered in 2013, 116 have been found this year, with 84 recoveries in October and 23 in November alone.
The number of Maoistrelated incidents in the Left Wing Extremism-affected districts has also seen an increase from 76 in the months of October-November 2013 to 107 incidents in the same period this year.
An official said that since the area under the influence of the Maoists is shrinking — with the opening of new camps by the security forces — planting IEDs is an easier way to inflict the maximum casualty on the personnel.
“The number of Maoistrelated incidents has increased as the election approaches. Overall, there has been a remarkable decrease in such incidents in the past decade,” said the official.
Eighteen constituencies in eight Maoist-affected districts — Bastar, Kanker, Sukma, Bijapur, Dantewada, Narayanpur, Kondagaon and Rajnandgaon — will vote in the first phase of the Assembly election on November 12.
Fewer civilian deaths
However, there has been a significant reduction in the number of civilians killed in 2018. While 76 civilians were killed in the months leading up to the election in 2013, the number has dropped to 11 this year. Nine security personnel though have been killed this year, compared to five in 2013.
A senior government official said the Maoists had mobilisation of manpower and intricate planning. Smaller teams don’t come under scrutiny easily,” he said.
Another official said the attack on a Doordarshan team recently, in which 34year-old video journalist Achyutananda Sahu was killed, was a case in point.
“The number of Maoists who attacked the DD team was not more than 20-25. They decamped with his camera. In a sanitisation drive, two IEDs were recovered from Nilvaya village, where the team was headed to cover a polling booth that had been set up after 20 years. They wanted to inflict casualties,” said the official.
The official also claimed that this time the Maoists were warning villagers of dire consequences if they cast their vote.
Strategic shift: With more security camps opened, Maoists see IEDs as an easier way to inflict maximum casualties.