Monday, December 14, 2009

Are Maoists packing a punch in south Orissa?

Express News Service

First Published : 14 Dec 2009 01:12:38 PM ISTLast Updated : 14 Dec 2009 01:14:22 PM IST

BHUBANESWAR: A recent Maoist poster found in Koraput’s Boipariguda has almost escaped notice of many. Chances are that Orissa Police may just have ignored it.

PGA is now PLA, is what the poster said in an unambiguous way. For many, it was another poster-campaign by the Red rebels who enjoy a solid sway in southern Orissa districts. Those in the know of things, however, refuse to take it lightly.

If the CPI (Maoist) has chosen to announce that its guerilla army is now a liberation outfit, it means more danger for the region. It might just be more than a rechristening; it could actually mean a multi-fold rise of the Left-wing extremist’s strength to strike.

“The difference between the guerilla army and a liberation unit is huge,” point out security analysts. It means rebels who employed guerilla warfare methods are now ready to take on the security forces in an overt manner, a situation which points to alarming rise in personnel strength.

Experts point out that the improvement may mean from company strength, it has now a battalion capability which indicates that the military army has several battalions - each having 500 to 600 members as against 60 to 70 under PGA - to strike. No one knows how many such units the rebels, so far, have managed to ready.

If such a scenario is true, going by the poster, security forces have the task cut out in Malkangiri district where the rebel army calls the shots.

“As it is the entry points to Malkangiri from Boipariguda to Govindpur are virtually taken over by the Maoists. Now, the PLA status is not something to be ignored,” sources pointed out.

Top police officials point out that without the consent of CPI (Maoist)’s central committee such an upgradation won’t be announced. For the record, in 2001 when People’s War carried out attacks in Kalimela and at Motu, it operated with `dalams’.

Interestingly, the outlawed outfit is believed to have augmented strength to battalion-based units in Chhattisgarh where it strikes at will. One of the reasons behind its successfully managing the capacity building is Salwa Judum formation by the neighbouring State Government. It helped the rebels garner strength since those unwilling to support the state-backed army headed their way.

To cope with the PLA status, Orissa Police will have to change their anti-insurgency strategy whatever little is in existence at present.

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