‘Special jungle roads needed to combat Maoists’

India needs to build a chain of roads exclusively for forces in the jungle terrains of leftist insurgency-hit areas to silence guerrilla guns and regain authority in areas commanded by rebels, a top counter-insurgency expert said.

“Developing a chain of roads exclusively for the use of forces engaged in anti-Maoist operation in jungle terrains and establishing counter-Naxal bases in rebels zones are the best ways to neutralize Maoist guns,” B.K. Ponwar told reporters.

The retired brigadier headed the Indian Army’s Counter-Insurgency and Jungle Warfare School at Vairengte in Mizoram.

“The roads in insurgency-hit interiors being used by civilians and police are loaded with mines and rebels have laid improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in almost each and every jungle road up to five feet,” he said.

“So a chain of fresh roads for security men must be established in difficult terrains and these roads placed under constant surveillance,” Ponwar added.

Ponwar is currently director of the Counter Terrorism and Jungle Warfare College (CTJWC) set in 2005 by the government of Chhattisgarh, one of the worst Maoist-hit states in India, to train cops to fight guerrillas like guerrillas.

“Roads exclusively for forces should be established for carrying out creeping reoccupation in areas held by Maoists,” he said. “This is the best way to penetrate their strongholds.”

He said it was important to secure combat forces and reduce civilian casualties. “In several cases, civilians vehicles were blown up, because it was either mistaken as a police vehicle or because police get into passenger vehicles,” he added.

“Exclusive roads for security men will allow forces to move faster in war zones and strike hard, take relief and reinforcement and ration in these areas in less period,” the counter-insurgency expert observed.

“Maoists are fast managing to expand their hold in new areas while keeping their traditional bases secure,” he admitted.

“Forces need to keep people of the conflict zone on their side to get faster and accurate intelligence about Maoist activities; no operation can get success till you have done an effective networking of human intelligence,” he remarked.

He stated that Maoists had established authority in roughly 6,000-8,000 sq km area in Abujhmad forests in Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra, in which there was need to regain control and rebuild confidence of the people.

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