Series of Maoist attacks in Bastar: A loud message for Raman Singh?
Chhattisgarh chief minister Raman Singh was to land by helicopter to launch the ambitious State-wide Lok Suraj Abhiyan (People’s good governance campaign) from Bastar on April 13. The State Government had announced that the chief minister will make efforts to ensure immediate redressal of public grievances. He was supposed to conduct sudden inspection of any government school, hospital, hostel, or tehsil office check their functioning.
Later on April 13, the chief minister’s programme as revised and it was announced that he would launch the Lok Suraj Abhiyan from Sarguja or Bastar th next day. On April 14, Singh formally landed at Chotedonger in Naraynpur district of Bastar formally start the Lok Suraaj Abhiyan.
By April 11, Saturday, when senior state officials had done a review of the preparations for the Lok Suraaj Abhiyan and the in-charge Secretaries were busy visiting their respective districts and RP Jain, the Bastar Division Commissioner had rounded up a crucial meeting of all concerned officials at the collectorate conference hall at Jagdalpur – the district headquarters of Collectorate in Jagdalpur and had instructed them to be prepared on war footing for the chief minister’s Bastar visit, the Maoists attacked and killed seven and wounded at least ten security personnel belonging to the highly motivated team of Special Task Force (STF) in Sukma district of Bastar division.
The next day, the Maoists killed a Border Security Force jawan in Kanker district of Bastar division and torched over a dozen vehicles carying iron ore. On Monday, there was another terrorist attack – the third in as many days. This time the Maoists blew up a mine sweeping vehicle killing five security personnel in Dantewada district of Bastar.
The Maoists have given a clear message to the chief minister that he should keep away from the border areas of Bastar.- D.M. Mitra, IPS, National Crime Records Bureau
These attacks were obviously timed to block the launch of the Lok Suraj Abhiyan by the Chief Minister in Bastar. When contacted, D.M. Mitra, a senior police officer and author of “Genesis and Spread of Maoist Violence and Appropriate State Strategy to Handle it” said that through the series of attacks in Chhattisgarh this past week, the Maoists have given a clear message to the chief minister that he should keep away from the border areas of Bastar.
The Maoists who are deeply entrenched in the Bastar forests apparently chose not to launch a frontal attack this time as the naxalite terrorists belonging to the Communist Party of India (Maoists) had done in May 2013 when they attacked a convoy of Congress leaders in the Darbha Valley in the Sukma district and killed at least 27, including former state minister Mahendra Karma, Chhattisgarh Congress chief Nand Kumar Patel and veteran Congress leader Vidya Charan Shukla. It is also possible that the Maoists are currently following the strategy to consolidate, spread their network and enlarge their area of influence by attacking only the security forces and not the district officials or the VIP’s – a pattern adopted by the naxalites since the beginning. The 2013 attack on the Congress convoy could be an exception.
On a close examination of the Maoist or the naxalite attack on STF personel in Sukma district it has come to light that the security forces this time did not become easy targets for the terrorists. As part of their domination exercise, they were not moving on the motorable tracks, that easily get blown up by mines and when attacked, they too retaliated and there is information that in the exchange fo fire some naxalites were also killed. The motivation and valour on the part of the STF personnel notwithstanding, what is disturbing is that there was hardly any coordination between the district police force and the security personnel engaged in the anti-naxalite (Maoist) operations. If this had not been the case, a contingency backup mechanism would have been in place to counter the Maoists without loss of time.