Monday, June 22, 2009

Officers complain of lack of planning on Bankura flank

22 Jun 2009, 0410 hrs IST, Jayanta Gupta & Falguni Banerjee, TNN

GOALTORE/SARENGA: The force that took on Maoists near Pirakata could have surprised the guerrillas and made rapid progress to the Lalgarh police
station, but that didn't happen, thanks to complete chaos on the other fronts and lack of proper planning. Lower-rung officers who are leading the other teams through Sarenga and Goaltore complained there was no strategy to deal with the situation.

Officers in Goaltore and Sarenga said they had received no reports from seniors stationed elsewhere on how to counter the insurgents. "There are no inputs and no strategy in operations at places away from Lalgarh," an officer complained.

Though they have been frantically calling seniors at Lalgarh to find out how they are to act, the officers claimed that they were still in the dark. At Goaltore, where police had been driven out of Pingboni on Saturday evening, there had been no reinforcements despite repeated SOS on advance of Maoists.

"From our side, the operations are getting nowhere. We are aware of Maoist movements through this area. But we have not received any orders. Nor do we have adequate strength to surge ahead," an officer at Goaltore said.

They also complained that they are leading a band of men who are not trained in such counter-insurgency operations.

The absence of curfew, particularly after dark, is posing a big hurdle. "Without curfew, one cannot restrict the movement of people and the force cannot advance as there is always a possibility of the Maoists outflanking and cutting off the rear. As operations cannot be carried out after sunset, we require many more personnel to hold on to the positions that we gain during the day. The entire exercise is turning out to be futile," another officer said.

Absence of mine-sweeping vehicles has slowed the progress of forces at these ends. "We are moving at a snail's pace as the area is fraught with danger. The order to move generally comes after 2 pm, which gives us little time to make ground before dusk sets in," he added.

The Maoists, on the other hand, have taken full advantage of this chaos and have succeeded in consolidating their position. According to sources in the police and intelligence agencies, they (Maoists) are well-stocked with food and ammunition to continue the fight for a considerable time. The terrain is such that even a small band of fighters can hold off a large force of police or paramilitary personnel, particularly since the government does not want any collateral damage.

Though they were initially buoyed to regain lost ground, the morale of the force has nosedived, claimed an officer.

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