Thursday, April 15, 2010

Chasing the Maoists: From Dantewada to Malkangiri

Amitabh Sinha Posted online: Thursday , Apr 15, 2010 at 0125 hrs

Dantewada : With at least one group of Naxalites, who killed the 76 security personnel in Dantewada, known to have crossed over to Orissa, the action is likely to shift to the Malkangiri area of that state in the next few days as the Centre dispatches additional troops to hunt down the killers. Sources in Chhattisgarh Police told The Indian Express that the attackers are known to have split into three groups and dispersed in different directions immediately after the attack on April 6, the largest one comprising 200 cadres towards Orissa.

“There is definitive information that one of the three groups has crossed the Indravati River and moved into the Malkangiri area of Orissa. Another group is reported to be moving southwards towards Andhra Pradesh while the third is understood to be hiding in the forests of Chhattisgarh,” a senior police official said. The group crossing over to Orissa had picked up a young girl from the area to act as the guide and later released her. The CRPF had done some combing operation in that area on receiving this information, but the Naxalites had fled by then.

Sources said the six battalions of additional paramilitary forces that the Centre has decided to send are likely to be deployed in Orissa and West Bengal to chase the fleeing Naxals. One top police officer said the forces were almost certainly not coming to Chhattisgarh.

The first trial of the unmanned aerial vehicle that the government proposes to use for surveillance purposes against the Naxals was tested in Kanker on Wednesday with ‘satisfactory’ results.

It has also emerged that the state intelligence had reported four to five times last month about the build-up of Naxalites in the Chintalnar forests where last week’s ambush took place. The build-up had been happening slowly and the kind of arms they were carrying had also been noticed. This information was shared with every relevant agency. The last such information had come just a week before the incident.

Officials said the area domination operation — that the CRPF was carrying out when they were ambushed — was, in fact, planned as a response of this information. The operation was planned on April 1, a day after the last intelligence input had come, sources said.

“It is a fact that there was detailed information available with all the relevant agencies and forces. What probably went wrong is the proper execution on the information. There was an obvious misreading of the situation,” a source said.

Everyone in the state is awaiting the arrival of former BSF DG E N Rammohan, the one-man inquiry committee to probe the incident. Rammohan, who is supposed to have been taken by surprise with the sudden responsibility thrown at him, is expected to arrive only by the weekend.

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