Friday, December 25, 2009

Orissa seeks central forces to tackle escaping Maoists

25 Dec 2009, 0446 hrs IST, Bharti Jain, ET Bureau



NEW DELHI: Apprehnending a spillover of Maoists in view of launch of joint counter-Naxal operations in Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra last week,
Orissa on Thursday sought additional forces from the Centre to plug the possible escape routes leading to its border areas.

A similar demand for additional forces was also raised by Maharashtra at a meeting of chief secretaries and DGPs of five Naxal-hit states — Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Orissa — chaired by Union home minister P Chidambaram here on Thursday to take stock of joint offensive now underway in Kanker and Rajnandgaon in Chhattisgarh and Gadchiroli in Maharashtra.

With the Naxalites yet to put up armed resistance to the joint offensive, the assessment among the counter-Naxal strategists here is that this may only be part of the Maoists’ strategy to study the firepower and nature/extent of deployment of the forces so as to formulate an effective and decisive counter-approach.

The Naxalites are known to wait and watch each time an offensive is launched against them and only strike back once they are familiar with the opponent’s strategy and weak points. Even in the current operations, the Maoists are looking to indulge in a counter-strike that would catch the security forces off-guard.
According to intelligence inputs based on interceptions by the Andhra police, the Naxalites in Kanker, Rajnandgaon and Gadchiroli — where around 46 companies of BSF and ITBP launched the operation to flush out Naxals and push development a few days ago — may try to diffuse the anti-naxalite forces by launching strikes in areas away from the districts covered by the offensive. This would ease the pressure off Maoists in the focus areas, besides spreading the forces thin and leaving them more vulnerable.

It is to rule out such a possibility that the Chattisgarh government has decided to continue with its Green Hunt operation, involving intelligence-based strikes to bust Naxalite hideouts and camps in south Bastar, while also sealing the escape routes to the “safer” Dhamtari region with the help of CRPF.

This arrangement, however, may divert the Naxalites on the run to interior pocketboroughs in Abujmarh, not really a source of worry as the area is sparsely populated, or to the neighbouring districts of Orissa such as Malkangiri and Koraput. The latter option is giving sleepless nights to the Orissa police, forcing its DGP to seek additional forces from the Centre to block the Naxal spillover. Not only Orissa, even Maharashtra is concerned about a spillover of Naxalites from the affected north Gadchiroli to south Gadchiroli, and has sought stationing of additional Central forces in the south as a preventive measure. The Centre, sources told ET, has promised to look into Orissa and Mahrashtra’s request.

According to senior officials overseeing the joint operations, while the joint offensive will be in full force in Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra -- though care will be taken that the first fire does not come from the security forces -- Jharkhand may join in only after a new government is in place. The views of the new regime on countering Naxalites will count before anything else.

As for the other states, while the Grey Hounds will sustain the pressure on Naxalites in Andhra Pradesh and concentrate themselves in the border areas, Orissa will be more on the defensive and focus on keeping Maoists from spilling over to its territory.

Orissa does not intend to immediately undertake joint operations due to “paucity of trained police manpower.” Incidentally, the state had earlier expressed its willingness to be a part the joint five-state offensive but wanted to solely draw upon the Central forces. This was resisted by the MHA which wanted the state government to spare a significant police component, if not an equal number, to fight alongside the Central forces.

1 comment:

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