Go after rebels, Centre to states

New Delhi, Dec. 10: Union home minister P. Chidambaram has asked states to build dedicated teams and go after the Maoist top bosses, making Bengal and Jharkhand as top priority regions for security forces.

At a review meeting to look into Naxalite activity in the nine most-affected states on November 30, Chidambaram is known to have chalked out priorities for the security forces, asking them to remove the Maoist senior leadership who are the ideological backbone and intellectual pivot of the rebel movement.

“Central, zonal and divisional area commanders need to be pursued,” said a source, quoting notes and conversations exchanged at the meeting of security forces after the CRPF-Bengal police encounter on November 25 that killed Maoists’ hooded ideologue Koteshwara Rao, alias Kishan.

While the pressure will remain in Bengal, it will, however, be Jharkhand’s Saranda forest that will be top priority for the security forces. Senior leader Prashant Bose, alias Kishen, is believed to be hiding in the semi-urban areas of Jharkhand on the periphery of the West Singhbhum forest.

The security forces are also on the lookout for Sachin, a rebel who took charge of Maoist operations in the Patamda-Dalma region of East Singhbhum. Sachin, about whom the forces know very little, is believed to be harbouring Kishan’s aide, Suchitra, who sustained bullet injuries in the November 25 encounter.

The Centre is convinced that Rao’s killing and that of Azad by Andhra Pradesh police last year were twin blows that have jolted the Maoists.

The Centre is satisfied that other top leaders like CPI(Maoist) politburo members Kobad Ghandy, Narayan Sanyal, Pramod Mishra and Amitabh Bagchi were in custody.

Many new members, the government feels, were not as experienced or matured intellectually to give a required push to the Maoists’ movement.

A drop in violence and a relative lull in Maoist activity have, in part, been attributed to the elimination of senior leaders. Security analysts at North Block and South Block are also closely watching how Maoists would treat the central committee and politburo members in jail.

“If they are removed, the message going down the line is not good; but how can they be in the committee when they are not useful being in jail?” said a source.

The advent of younger, down-to-earth leaders with lesser ideological moorings, the Centre feels, could lead to internal rivalries based on regional affiliations as most leaders continue to hail from Andhra Pradesh. As a result, the Maoist movement could see a “contraction” in another two years.

At the same time, the pressure on rebels is being maintained. Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh remain a priority for security forces. Chhattisgarh has seen 26 per cent of all violence and 36 per cent of all Maoist-related deaths in the nine states.

There are 73 battalions of central forces and 37 battalions of India Reserve Battalions (IRB), besides the CRPF’s 10 CoBRA battalions deployed in the Maoist-affected states.
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