Centre wants Chhattisgarh police to take lead role in anti-Maoist operations
NEW DELHI: As the government works on a revised counter-Naxal doctrine, union Home Secretary Anil Goswami has convened a meeting with Chhattisgarh government brass and its DGP here on Thursday to discuss tightening of the state’s response against Left-wing extremism. Sources indicated that a dedicated action plan for fighting Maoists in Chhattisgarh will be discussed at the meeting, which will also see Goswami asking the state police to focus on taking the lead in planning pro-active counter-operations, particularly in Bastar region, while involving CRPF in their execution.
According to the union home ministry’s assessment, Chhattisgarh is second only to Jharkhand in the list of states worst affected by left-wing extremism (LWE). However, the operations initiated by the state police have been on the lower side this year. In fact, the slightly improved LWE indices of the state are largely attributed to operations planned and executed by the CRPF, with the state police playing a poor second fiddle and, in some cases, even declining to come on board. The home secretary, said ministry sources, is likely to impress upon the Chhattisgarh government to improve its counter-Naxal response by getting the ground level policing in order, stepping up intelligence gathering on Maoist activities and movement and taking the lead in planning counter-operations with the CRPF troops providing the boots on the ground.
“The police stations in the Naxal-infested Bastar region must be made fully functional and the local policemen should be involved more in the surgical strikes against Maoists….The operations must be planned by the police and the CRPF brought on board for their execution,” said a senior home ministry official. Chhattisgarh had witnessed 195 incidents of Naxal violence until July 31 this year, resulting in the deaths of 36 civilians and 37 security personnel. This is against 201 incidents, 46 civilian killings and 28 security personnel killings recorded in the corresponding period of 2013. While attacks on the police, including landmine blasts, were higher at 74 as compared to 57 in the first seven months of last year, as many as 302 Naxalites were arrested and 54 surrendered this year as against 223 arrests and 22 surrenders last year. A home ministry official claimed that most of these surrenders had been before the CRPF.
Maoists gun for lost glory
VISAKHAPATNAM: As the bauxite mining issue heats up, the Reds are reportedly planning to use the Manyam Pituri Sena (MPS) as a weapon to take on the cops and connect with tribals to fan the flames of the anti-bauxite struggle. According to sources, the Reds have chalked out plans to revive the MPS, which was initially set up in 2005-06 but has been dormant since, and use it to spearhead the tribal struggle against bauxite mining in the Visakha agency and expand operations in the entire Andhra-Odisha Border (AOB) area. The top AOB Special Zonal Committee (AOBSZC) leadership and the central committee has decided to seize the opportunity that the anti-bauxite struggle has offered the Maoists to stage a comeback in the AOB area, where they had been virtually wiped out thanks to the aggressive domination of the security forces over the past few years, sources said.
According to sources, the game plan is to set up one committee for members of every four to five villages, which translates into four or five committees for every gram panchayat and so on. These sena groups will be guided by the militia network and sympathisers of the banned outfit. The Reds are now busy recruiting tribal youth in the sena. While the initial target is to recruit around 500-800 youth, they are hopeful of the sena numbers swelling to thousands as the anti-bauxite struggles gathers pace. The Naxalites are hoping to use MPS to create awareness among tribal communities not only on bauxite mining but also on various other issues, galvanise mass participation against the state and intensify armed attacks, sources explained. While a senior cop involved in anti-naxal operations admitted to TOI on condition of anonymity that the MPS would be successful in infiltrating the tribals, he said it would not be possible to recruit them in thousands.
“There will an impact of the Maoists’ MPS as tribals are seeking support in their struggle against the government. MPS will definitely become a headache for the security forces. But I don’t think it will be possible for them to expand in a big way by recruiting thousands of youth into their rank and file,” he opined. Though the concept of Manyam Pituri Sena, which loosely translates into Agency rebellion army, was discussed at the division level and AOB Special Zonal Committee meetings of the Reds, it was officially announced during the 10 year celebrations of the People’s Liberation Guerilla Army (PLGA) in 2010. In fact, discussions held six years ago in the AOBSZC meeting chaired by Ramakrishna alias RK, the then secretary of AOBSZC, it was decided that the MPS members would carry traditional weapons like sickles, swords, bows and arrows and would also be given training in rifle shooting.
The concept of pituri sena is well entrenched among tribals with well-known revolutionary Alluri Seetharama Raju too forming a pituri sena to fight the British in the pre-independence era. Even before Seetharama Raju, there was a pituri sena led by Bhupathi in East Godavari and Visakhapatnam agency areas prior to the 1857 Sepoy Mutiny. “Pituri sena is the last hope for Maoists to regain their lost glory as many tribals are openly coming out against the government. This is the right time for Naxals to induct people into various committees and nurture them before including them in their main squads. So, they will not let go of this chance to strike back at the security forces and will make the most of it,” said an IPS officer with years of experience in anti-naxal operations.