The Govt must act against Maoist terror

Bastar has been the epicentre of major Maoist attacks in recent decades, including the deadliest one that claimed the lives of 76 CRPF men in April 2010. Naxal/Maoist violence has claimed more than 12,000 lives in the country, including those of around 2,700 security personnel, in two decades. Several other states are also grappling with the menace. In May 2019, insurgents had triggered an improvised explosive device in Maharashtra’s Gadchiroli district, killing 15 members of a police quick response team.
The Saturday incident in which twenty-two security personnel were killed and 31 others injured in a Maoist ambush in Chhattisgarh’s Bastar region was an eye-opener for the state as well union government. While reports suggest that up to 20 Maoists were killed in the encounter too, there is little doubt that the incident represents a grave setback to the Indian State in general and security forces in particular.
It appears that Maoists planted intelligence about the presence of a dreaded commander, Madvi Hidma, in a particular location; over 1,700 men from various security agencies launched an offensive from Sukma and Bijapur; Maoists then executed a “U-shaped attack” where they fired from the two hilltops as the jawans were at lower levels in two villages, both of which had already been evacuated by the Maoists. The forces walked into the trap, losing brave men and dealing a blow to India’s battle against the Maoist insurgency.
According to reports, an unverified intel input lured the security forces into the Maoists’ lethal trap. This grave lapse needs to be probed thoroughly so that responsibility can be fixed and another disaster avoided. The Chhattisgarh incident has elicited the usual platitudes from the state and Central governments about giving a ‘befitting response’ and ‘never forgetting the sacrifices of the martyrs’. Undoubtedly, the killings have belied the tall claim that the Maoist insurgency is on its last legs. There is no denying that a lot has to be done to break the back of the terrorists, right from snapping their supply of money, arms and ammunition and ensuring development in the infested areas to giving a cutting edge to the security forces in terms of intel, training and equipment. It’s also imperative to weaken local support for the insurgents by providing adequate education and job opportunities to residents. The State must act against Maoist terror, but smartly and carefully.

- Prabhakar Purandare

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