DNA special: Fierce battle in Jharkhand forests

After breaking in the CPI (Maoist) stronghold in Abujhmaad forest for the first time ever, the security forces have launched an operation on a similar scale in Koel Sankh forest zone located at the tri-junction of Latehar and Garhwa districts of Jharkhand and Sarguja district of Chhattisgarh.

Like Abujhmaad, this area is also considered a Maoist stronghold having large tracts of liberated zones where Maoists have established Jantana Sarkars.

Unlike Abujhmaad, where the security forces surprisingly met with muted Maoist resistance and had a rather far easy penetration than expected, Koel Sankh is proving to be a very tough battle zone.

Despite a fierce battle that has been raging for nearly 15 days now, the CPI (Maoist) Peoples’ Liberation Guerilla Army (PLGA) cadres are still holding on in the forest area touching Daltonganj hill forest in the north, Garu Gumla range in the south and Betla national forest and gotang forest in the east.

Their leader Dev Kumar Singh alias Nishanth alias Arvind, is considered to be a fierce fighter.

“Yesterday, as many as 40 improvised explosive devices (IEDs) went off simultaneously. Fortunately, no one was hit but so powerful were the blasts that the jawans in full gear fell down due to their intensity. The Maoist here are fighting for every inch of land, as if they are holding the last bastion,” a senior official overseeing the operation told DNA from Jharkhand.

Though the exact number of security forces could not be ascertained, informed sources put the number of crack commandos at 1,500, drawn from elite Combat Battalion for Resolute Action (CoBRA), special force of Jharkhand – Jharkhand Jaguars and CRPF. One plausible reason why Maoists are not ready to leave the area, sources say, could be that they do not want to get bad publicity like they got in Abujhmaad. Another possible reason, according to a former Maoist, could be that the Maoists of this area who belong to the MCC and come mostly from Bihar, Jharkhand and Orissa want to earn brownie points over peoples’ war group (PWG), mostly from Andhra Pradesh by telling them that they are better fighters and can hold on to liberated areas.

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