Friday, April 03, 2009

Silence of Maoists baffles cops

4 Apr 2009, 0307 hrs IST, G Arun Kumar, TNN

HYDERABAD: Elections are close at hand but the silence of Maoists is deafening. While the sounds of AK-47s are muffled in naxal-dominated districts
all along Orissa, Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra borders, AP police are worried it’s only a lull before the storm.

“The unusual lull is strange. The Maoists may resort to ambushes and stray attacks to bamboozle the cops and disrupt the poll process,” an apprehensive police officer told TOI. Heavy Maoist presence is evident in 10 to 15 assembly constituencies that share border with Orissa, 20 to 25 constituencies along the Chhattisgarh border and about 40 in Telangana districts that have borders with all the three states.

Top cops said that Maoist action teams could well aim at specific targets this time. Reports indicate that armed militia are already moving in companies (each comprising 90-100 members). Corroborating this, a DIG-level officer said the elections are the only means to strike terror and make their presence felt. “They may resort to tactical counter offensive by striking where it hurts the most,” an expert said.

Sources said with assembly polls having been over in Chhattisgarh, Maoists would be more than keen to disrupt the AP assembly polls. “We have specific information that the rebels are holding regular meetings in Khammam-Chhattisgarh border areas to foment trouble,” a senior cop said. Sources said local guerrilla squads (LGS) could enter from the Andhra Orissa Board (AOB) and Chhattisgarh and cause widespread destruction. Regrouping of Maoists in north Telangana districts has also not been ruled out. The massing (over 250 armed men) of Maoists in Gadchiroli district of Maharashtra is another major concern.

While paramilitary, CRPF, APSP, Greyhounds and local police have been conducting extensive combing in the forest areas to flush out the rebels, field craft operations are being hampered because of the tough AOB terrain. “Coordination with neighbouring states and sharing of information on movement of naxals has been intensified,” a Maoist-hit district SP revealed.

Police are not only keeping track of movement of couriers and Maoist sympathisers in deep forest tracts but they are also binding over tribal youths having links with Maoists. The most vulnerable districts in AOB are Koraput, Rayagada, Malkangiri, Ganjam, Visakha Rural, Srikakulam and Vizianagaram, while the Khammam-Chhattisgarh border is another hot spot. Boycott calls have always been a feature of every election and the naxals coerce people against voting, but this time, the Maoists haven’t spread terror like they did prior to 2004 polls.

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