India’s bloody battles against the Maoists will be fought in eleven theatres along borders of Naxal-infested states like Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand besides smaller, simultaneous operations through the vast swathe of dense jungles that the Maoists call the Red Corridor.
India has 2.5 million people living under the shadow of the about 5,600 well-trained and equally well armed Naxals. “This is their fighting core besides thousands of militia,” a senior security officer said.
The government expects to wipe out the military component of the Naxals between 12 to 36 months. Already, there are reports of the Maoists moving deeper into jungles — and their leaders into strongholds like the Ambujmarh jungles of Chhattisgarh — in anticipation of the onslaught.
The anti-naxal surge cleared by the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) on Thursday plans to clear the forests of the heavily armed naxal cadre and deliver a heavy dose of development that will bring schools, health services, police stations and road building exercises.
“We hope that literally within 30 days of security forces moving in and dominating the area, we should be able to restore civil administration there,” Home Secretary G K Pillai declared on Friday.
But this exercise could be painfully slow and cost hundreds of lives. India has 223 districts under naxal influence, only half of them witness naxal violence.
The government has a Rs 7,300 crore infrastructure development plan for naxal-affected areas under various schemes. Pillai expects to spend nearly Rs 1,000 crore on the naxal-infested regions this year.
Senior government sources told HT that the home ministry had received support from the CCS on taking the naxal battle to the next level, into naxal strongholds like the forests of Bastar where the naxal writ runs.
While state police forces assisted by the central forces would carry out operations in their respective areas, the home ministry has drawn up a heavy plans to dominate the eleven tri-junctions and bi-junctions – inter-state borders between two or three states like Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra.
To begin with, six districts of four states — Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa and Maharashtra — have been selected to implement the action plan.
Over the next few weeks, the government hopes to raise the additional strength of central security forces to 35,000 personnel who would clear out territory and hand them back to a mix of paramilitary and state armed police personnel.