Wednesday, Sep 17, 2014

Target red after saffron surge

These huts serve as the Farsegarh police station. Source: Ashutosh Bahrdwaj These huts serve as the Farsegarh police station. (Source: Express photo by Ashutosh Bahrdwaj)
Written by Ashutosh Bhardwaj | Raipur | Posted: June 11, 2014 3:46 am | Updated: June 11, 2014 8:19 am

Chhattisgarh’s demand for additional firepower against Maoists and the assurances it has got from the Centre come at a time when the Maoists have consolidated in key pockets, BJP leaders are facing allegations of an understanding with the rebels, and when the party won most of the Lok Sabha seats in Naxal-dominated districts across states.

After Chief Minister Raman Singh presented Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh with a list of demands Monday, the state government has issued a statement expressing satisfaction with the Centre for approving 12 battalions and promising additional helicopters.

The new government at the Centre was sworn in, coincidentally, a year almost to the date after the attack on a Congress convoy in Darbha on May 25, 2013. Since then, there has been little progress in the offensive against Naxals. The NIA is yet to file a chargesheet on the attack, while Darbha saw two more attacks during the recent polls, leading to 23 deaths.

The Centre had sanctioned Rs 150 crore for 75 police stations in Maoist-hit areas of Chhattisgarh years ago, but not one has been completed. “Fifty-six are under construction and a proposal for a change of place for 15 is pending with the Centre,” says a police officer. For some existing police stations, such as Bhadrakali in Bijapur, one needs to boat across a river. Others, like the one in Farsegarh, look like hutments.

Gains amid losses

Last month, the CPI(Maoist) brought on board the group CPI(ML) Naxalbari, which operates in Kerala and Karnataka. “The recent expansion in the southern part of the Western Ghats is proof that the flames of revolution will continue…,” read the merger statement by CPI(Maoist) general secretary Muppala Laxman Rao alias Ganapathy and CPI(ML) Naxalbari secretary Ajith.

In a January 22 letter to top police officers of Maoist-hit states, the home ministry had noted that Ganpathy has managed various factions well in difficult times. The acknowledgment came after the Maoists too had been admitting setbacks.

Last year, The Indian Express had reported a resolution from a CPI(Maoist) central committee meeting in which top leaders admitted having lost their base, weaponry and acdres across zones. This year, the Maoists have noted some recovery amid the setbacks. “The recruitment target was achieved in south region (Sukma, Bijapur and Dantewada). Tactical Counter Offensive Campaign was also achieved in south region,” reads a resolution, again accessed by The Indian Express, from the Dandakaranaya Special Zonal Committee’s annual meeting in February.

It goes on to describe the setbacks: “TCOC failed in north and west regions. We failed to stop deserters…” The resolution attributes desertions to “enhanced low-intensity conflict of the enemy, our lack of confidence, non-proletariat inclinations and our moral mistakes, the degradation of communist ideals… non-resolution of issues of cadres.” It notes that several cadres promoted too quickly later deserted.

The Maoists had set up unified continued…

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