Two PLFI supporters shot dead
Jamshedpur: Two supporters of ultra outfit People’s Liberation Front of India (PLFI) were allegedly shot dead by CPI (Maoists) at Gudri in naxal-affected West Singhbhum district, a senior police officer today said. A police team has rushed to the spot and we are waiting for the details of the incident, said Superintendent of Police, Michael Raj S. Michael Raj said as per the preliminary report, two supporters of PLFI, an ultra outfit, were shot dead by the naxals last night.
Intelligence vacuum hampers operations in Maoist hotbed
Covert intelligence gathering should be the backbone of any security operation but not so in the jungles of Chhattisgarh, large swathes of which are under the control of armed Maoist guerrillas. The sheer physicality of the paramilitary troopers, all of whom are at least 170 cm tall and therefore unable to blend in with the local populace, combined with problems of coordination and connectivity have meant that security forces are fighting left-wing extremists with precious little ground level information. “CRPF has 350 men in intelligence setup at various levels in Chhattisgarh. These people have been recruited from the main force and their height (at least 170 cm) and weight (at least 50 kg) makes them distinct from the local population. They can be identified from a distance. It makes them prone to attack by the Naxals. Hence, they rarely manage to go into territory that matters,” a senior CRPF official in Bastar told dna.
In the absence of a strong intelligence network, the government is unable to prevent incidents such as the Kasalpad ambush in November in which 14 CRPF personnel were killed. A CRPF official termed the operation “foolish” and said it was the “daredevil act of the senior security establishment” which is unaware of ground realities. “The government spends several hundred crores in sending and operating more CRPF battalions in Chhattisgarh. But just a few lakhs are spent on intelligence gathering which is the backbone of any good fighting force,” said another official, privy to the intelligence functioning of the CRPF in Chhattisgarh. Given the restive situation in the state, the government recently approved the deployment of an additional 11 CRPF battalions, translating to about 11,000 more troopers.
Adding to the spectrum of problems for the security forces are the numerous technological challenges. They are, for instance, unable to penetrate or intercept Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) messages and calls on Skype and Viber used by Maoists. According to sources, Google and Yahoo have been approached to provide intercept information. “Yahoo has started sharing information, but Google is still not cooperating,” said an official. At least 5,000 to 7,500 armed Maoists are active in Chhattisgarh, say varying estimates of the state police and CRPF.
The security map used by the CRPF and state intelligence shows most parts of Bastar division as “highly affected or liberated zones” that are almost under the complete control of the Maoists. “The acutely affected areas are the security vacuums in the state. We have no idea what is going on in there. Occasional search operations are all what we are capable of doing in such areas,” said a senior official in the Raipur headquartered state intelligence bureau (SIB), which has around 650 members, including the administrative staff.