Monday, July 06, 2009

Security forces from J&K may be deployed against them, feel Maoists

K. Srinivas Reddy

They are for increasing violence in their ‘strongholds and areas of struggle’

Expand guerilla war to newer areas, Maoist cadre told

“The LTTE had underestimated its enemy”

HYDERABAD: The proposed withdrawal of the paramilitary forces from active duties in Kashmir has forced Maoists to redraft their field tactics as they believe these forces will be deployed for counter-insurgency operations in States that face Left wing extremist problem.

Just a day after Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram announced the plan to withdraw the Central Reserve Police Force from Kashmir, during his visit to the Valley on June 11, the Maoist Polit Bureau (PB) has sent out a circular to its fighters asking them to get prepared for a long-drawn battle apprehending that the CRPF pullout is a precursor to an all-round offensive against Maoists.

Refined strategy

Maoists believe that the Centre’s move to “redraw lines of responsibility” among the Army, the paramilitary forces and the Kashmir police is part of a refined counter-insurgency strategy to be implemented in Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa, West Bengal and other Maoist-affected States.

Their analysis is that the Chhattisgarh government will shortly launch a major offensive to take over Abuz Maad in Bastar forests (about 4,000 sq km), dubbed as the Maoist military headquarters. The redeployment of the central forces will lead to a “long-drawn” armed conflict, the Polit Bureau has cautioned.

Sole intention

The Maoist strategy to counter the offensive is to step up violence in its ‘strongholds and areas of struggle’ with the sole intention to “disperse the enemy’s [the State’s] forces over a significantly wide area.”

In the 14-page circular, a copy of which is available with The Hindu, the PB has asked the rebel ranks to “further aggravate the situation and create more difficulties to enemy forces by expanding guerilla war to newer areas,” under what it terms a Tactical Counter Offensive Campaign (TCOC).
The forthright call to take up TCOC and inflict severe losses to the security forces by “meticulously planning the actions,” has the counter-insurgency specialists worried. They point out that the onset of the rainy season is not the right time to take up anti-naxal operations as most of the forest areas become totally inaccessible.

“… Tactical counter-offensives should be stepped up and also taken up in new areas so as to divert a section of the enemy forces from attacking our guerilla bases …”

This unequivocal assertion, analysts say, is a firm indication that the Maoist-affected States will witness more violence in the coming days. The military superiority of the rebel fighters has been proved by massive strikes against the police in the recent elections in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Bihar, West Bengal, Orissa and Maharashtra.

The continuous attacks caused the death of 112 police personnel, including paramilitary forces, between April 6 and June 12, the day the PB released the circular.

Taking stock of the political situation in the country, the PB feels that the “relative stability” of the United Progressive Alliance government will lead to a more determined military offensive against the Maoist movement.

Going by the circular, the rebels’ focus will now be on defending their bases and zones in Chhattisgarh, Bihar and Jharkhand. Their plan, apparently, is to rope in the militant anti-government organisations in the battle to fight the government forces.

Intelligence sources, who monitor the left wing extremist violence, indicate that there indeed is a plan to move at least 10 battalions of the Central Para Military Forces (CPMF) from Kashmir to Chhattisgarh after the troops underwent a month-long training. Kashmir and Chhattisgarh have different battle conditions. The forces have to be trained at least for a month as they move from one theatre of conflict to another, says a senior police officer.

The sources said:

“The pullout will begin from Kashmir, where 58 battalions of the CRPF are deployed. This is the only theatre of conflict where we can divert some forces. The Home Ministry too is of the opinion that the Jammu and Kashmir police should be on the frontline in the maintenance of law and order and not the CPMF.

“The situation in the northeast, the other major theatre of conflict, is becoming volatile again. Hence, troop pullout is not advisable. The third theatre of conflict involving the left wing extremism should receive more focus now.”

At present, 33 battalions of the CPMF are deployed in various States, with Chhattisgarh having 17, followed by Jharkhand 6, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar and Orissa 4 each, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal one each. Chhattisgarh, the epicentre of the Maoist activity, has been demanding the deployment of at least 55 battalions to take on the naxals.

Fall of LTTE

The PB sounds a note of caution, saying Maoists could learn a lesson or two from the setback the LTTE faced in the hands of Sri Lankan defence forces. It feels that the LTTE “failed to study the changes in enemy tactics, capabilities, international support” and this underestimation of enemy, coupled with overestimation of its strength, led to its defeat. “The LTTE’s fall will have a negative effect on revolutionary movement in India as well as South Asia too,” the PB notes.

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