Friday, November 13, 2009

Anti-Naxal ops only after Jharkhand polls

Shishir Gupta Posted online: Thursday , Nov 12, 2009 at 0329 hrs

New Delhi : The much-awaited anti-Naxalite operations in Central India are expected to be put off till after the Jharkhand Assembly elections with Chhattisgarh Director General of Police Vishwaranjan conveying his scepticism to New Delhi about the enduring capabilities of the CRPF Cobra battalions in the jungles of Dantewada.
Although Union Home Minister P Chidambaram quietly dropped in at the CRPF headquarters on Monday evening to discuss the finer points of the anti-Maoist operations with Central Task Force Commander Vijay Raman, the fact is that it would take some 18 days before the Cobra battalions complete their tactical training. It is understood that the Cobra battalions are now being trained at the Kanker jungle warfare school in north Bastar with focus on tactics and staying power in the Chhattisgarh jungles.

It was noticed that as the Cobra battalions return to base every evening, the Maoists would come back from the jungles to dominate the area. “Till the time the Cobra battalions are trained to live off the jungle like Greyhounds, the anti-Naxal operations would not be successful,” said a senior official.

Another reason for the anti-Naxalite operations being put off till after the last phase of election in Jharkhand on December 18 is the apprehension that there could be violent reprisals, especially in Jharkhand. Though the Election Commission has opted for five phased polling, the Left extremists, who are adept at moving across the state rapidly, could still create problems. Moreover, there is no consensus among state politicians about the anti-Maoists operations.

Government sources said though West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik have come out in favour of taking on the Maoist rebels, privately they are still convinced that the problem can only be sorted out through dialogue. The Congress, too, does not want to dampen its political fortunes in Jharkhand in case of collateral damage.

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