Wednesday, June 02, 2010

OPERATION GREEN HUNT: COST OF BEING CASUAL

By Divya Kumar Soti

Dantewada has emerged as a disaster zone over last few months for security forces and their attempts at curbing Maoist violence. The massacre of CRPF troopers in Dantewada and recent landmine blast targeting a passenger bus carrying Special Police Officers (SPOs) triggered heated debates in New Delhi as to approach towards Maoist menace; bringing the issue to national centre stage. Much had been happening over last few years in jungles in Central India-which are infamous since pre-historic times of Ramayana when Lord Rama fought with menace of barbarians in Dandakaranya and more recently when British had tough times in quelling the menace of ‘Thugs’ in 19th Century- which went unnoticed and now throws a grave challenge for India’s security forces as is evident from outcomes of Operation Green Hunt; a much publicized offensive launched by Centre to curb the Maoist violence.

The roots of unexpected outcomes of OP Green hunt lies in our national attitude towards

Maoist problem and our history of political bewilderment in early phases of any internal security challenge. The blowing up of railway tracks, looting of warehouses in Central India by Maoists were always considered as minor incidents by Centre. The strategists in New Delhi never expected that Maoists will ever target security forces in such big way nor was it seen in most distant dreams that fighters of so called ‘people’s war’ will target civilians. The Maoist problem never attracted as much attention and resources as the insurgencies in J&K or North-East. Maoists were always considered to be poorly trained unsophisticated chaps in comparison to well trained terrorist groups active in Kashmir valley. Sadly, this misconception still persists in our sub-conscious minds. OP Green Hunt was launched without carrying out a proper assessment of threats involved and objectives of operation were vague. This also underlines absence of a broader strategy and a clear mandate for security forces which renders talk of ‘tactical blunders’ by forces a rather inapplicable conjecture. Actually it was nothing but a massive patrolling exercise inspired by a similar one previously carried out in Lalgarh in West Bengal. It was supposed that once troops will establish camps and will start tracking though the forests, Maoists will give up and will come to table. It was also presumed that sight of Central Forces will boost confidence in tribal population thus diffusing the information vacuum. Before launching OP Green Hunt, Ministry of Home Affairs had not secured any guarantee from concerned State Governments with regard to proper co-operation. Moreover, offensive in each State remained a distinct affair. So, Op Green Hunt is not a centralized affair and has no unified command.

Dantewada incident throws light on casual approach with which OP Green Hunt is being conducted. Although, much has been written and said about reasons behind painful massacre of CRPF Company, a more candid effort is attempted in following lines. The CRPF convoy was very badly configured. Usually a forward clearing party moves ahead to look for any mines or ambush in such a zone. The main convoy shall maintain a gap of 100-200 meters from clearing party. This was not the case with ill fated convoy. The company was moving on vague information of Maoist presence.In Dantewada jungles, guerilla movements are too agile. Information received six hours back may be stale for conducting a localized operation. But this does not mean that intelligence is a useless commodity as Chattisgarh DGP told a TV News Channel after the incident. He said that- “There was no intelligence failure. This is a battle zone. Intelligence in general sense does not matter much. We develop it on field and rely more on force than on intelligence.”

There is a difference between intelligence failure and miscarriage of intelligence. What is needed is not plain intelligence but real time intelligence. In today’s circumstances, Central forces are not in the position of ‘developing intelligence during operation’ in a region like Bastar. This highlights the urgent need of aerial reconnaissance so that that raw information can be readily verified.

The massacre of CRPF Company was attributed to ‘tactical blunders’. Subjectively speaking this is true to a great extent but objectively, the flaws in whole anti-naxal strategy are to be blamed. The whole debacle depicts how casually things were taken and how casually troops operate on bad briefs.

(Divya Kumar Soti is a security affairs analyst and may be reached at writing2divya@gmail.com)


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