Monday, February 08, 2010

Showdown in jungle war

TNN, 9 February 2010, 02:44am IST

With a Green Hunt-type assault just weeks away, the Maoist brigade is believed to be on back foot in Jangalkhand, spread across Bengal, Jharkhand
and Orissa, thanks to persistent and coordinated flush-out operations by the security forces.

Armed with a new combat strategy, 'BLACK' — Breakaway factions of the Maoists, Localised policing, Armed force of the ruling CPM, Coordination among all state agencies, and Killing instinct — security forces are confident of rooting out the Maoist menace.

Facing a war of survival, the red brigade, bruised by intensifying battles with the security forces, is hastily changing tactic and preparing its cadres for the new order-of-battle.

It's been a bloody, spirit-sapping battle for the security forces. Facing ambushes at every corner, bitterly criticised for their slow progress and hampered by an unsure administration, the jawans bit the bullet and quietly chipped away at the Maoist network.

"The going was tough but we have managed to gain the upper hand after seven months of operations," said a senior officer, pointing out that thrice in the last few weeks, they very nearly nailed the Maoist top gun Koteswar Rao alias Kishanji. "Every time, he escaped by a whisker through sheer luck. We are hounding him and have forced him to flee, leaving his camps, personal belongings, weapons and even laptop," he said.

That's how police arrested PCPA leader Chhatradhar Mahato in September last year. Now, it's target Kishanji.
"Over the last two months, not a single day has gone by without us arresting some cadres, sympathisers or linkmen, from whom we extracted important information on the outfit and their senior leaders," said an IPS officer, playing a key role in the anti-Maoist operations in Bengal. "We have managed to shatter Kishanji's 'elusive' image. We even have his photographs and are getting constant updates of his hideouts."

The Maoists killed over 130 people in Jangalmahal in 2009. "But there has not been a single killing since January 7, due to the heat from the police," said Kuldiep Singh, IG Western Zone.

Unlike the initial part of the operation, police are now conducting raids with precise information. Earlier, they were focused only on area domination without specific inputs, which helped Maoist continue with their killing spree. "At first, we could not move into villages after sundown fearing an ambush. But now we are sneaking into dense forests in the dark because our troops are habituated with the terrain," pointed out another officer on the field.

In June 2009, when the operation was launched, a large portion of Jangalmahal spread over three Bengal districts — West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia — was under siege. More than 2500 sq km in seven blocks — Binpur-I, Binpur-II, Salboni, Jamboni, Sarenga, Ranibandh and Bandwan — were isolated from the rest of the state. No administrative agency, including police, had access for more than eight months after the tribal upsurge in Lalgarh in November 2008. Police were forced to leave their camps by the Maoist-controlled PCPA, formed shortly after the ambush on the CM's convoy. Now, there are signs of a turnaround.

No comments: