Thursday, June 04, 2009

Cops in Naxal country are a demoralised lot

1 Jun 2009, 0205 hrs IST, Soumittra S Bose, TNN

NAGPUR: In the war of nerves between Naxalites and the police, the former seem to be having an upper hand. After their latest strike at Hatti Gota
in Gadchiroli district that claimed the lives of 16 policemen, the state security forces seem a demoralised lot.

The police department was jolted after losing four cops at Korepalli in 2008. It initially viewed that as one-off incident. It was followed by February 1 attack at Markegaon where Naxalites killed 15 cops. The force then reacted with alacrity and launched Operation Parakram. It involved additional forces, coordination with Chhattisgarh police, and even use of helicopters.

However, that operation failed to achieve any notable success. Instead, Naxalites struck again at Hatti Gota killing 16 more policemen. With this 38 cops have died at Naxalites’ hands in Gadchiroli since Korepalli. The police could only claim to have gunned down three or four of Naxal cadres in the period. The only success of the police force in the recent past was the high voting in Gadchiroli despite a Naxal call for boycott of elections.

Post-Hatti Gota, the police response seems strangely lax. Observers say the the attacks have unnerved the rank and file. It is evident that the police forces are no match for a Naxal groups that are highly motivated. The Mungner encounter of April, which also claimed three cops, was revealing. The aggression, weapons and combat ability of the enemy group of more than 200 cadres showed a new strategy.

The cumulative effect is that right now cops seem to be lying low. It is learnt that at ground level only routine activities are being undertaken. There is no talk of retaliation or taking the fight into enemy camp. It is a recipe to embolden the rebels even more. Experts say a major change in leadership and political will are needed to regain the initiative from the rebels.

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