Riding on the back of the longest period of peace enjoyed by security forces since 2007, the Jharkhand government is preparing for a decisive battle against the Naxal menace in the state.
The new BJP government has brought in Rajiv Gauba, who was the additional secretary in-charge of LWE affairs at the Union Home Ministry, as its Chief Secretary. New DGP D K Pandey was additional director general, operations, of the CRPF; he was also IG, operations, of the CRPF in Jharkhand earlier. Police officials said with BJP governments both in the state as well as the centre, even the Intelligence Bureau has indicated that it was willing to work with the state government when it comes to the final push.
Speaking separately in January, CM Raghubar Das and the then chief secretary Sajal Chakrabarty had said they would soon end LWE activities in the state.
The last time someone from security forces died at the hands of the Naxals in the state was at Itkhori in Chatra on December 24 last year, days ahead of Raghubar Das being sworn in as the CM.
The last major strike on the security forces was on April 24, 2014, when alleged Maoists killed five security personnel who were returning after conducting Lok Sabha polls in Dumka district. “It (drop in number of attacks on forces) must be because we have more boots on the ground. We are able to conduct more operations, more area domination exercises,” said Anil Palta, ADG, Operations .
Police casualties came down to eight in 2014 from 26 the previous two years. LWE incidents also dropped, from 404 and 349 in 2012 and 2013 to 231 last year. There was also a sharp fall in civilian casualties: 124 (2012) and 126 (2013) to 86, which Palta termed “still too high”.
Jharkhand, which saw most LWE-related deaths in the country in 2012 and 2013, fell second to Chhattisgarh last year. Former DGP Rajeev Kumar and Sajal Chakrabarty — replaced rather unceremoniously by the current administration — had set the tone by extensively touring LWE-affected areas during their tenure.
Palta is also a Das appointee. Under him, the fight against LWE is being restructured: Palta has already succeeded in merging the law and order section under ADG, Ops, thereby ensuring the state’s specialised anti-LWE force Jharkhand Jaguar now reports to him. A February 20 order by DGP Pandey set out his intentions of empowering the JJ — it will have its own intelligence-collection unit. There was also the mention of the creation of a Psy Ops (psychological operations) unit.
The most important part of the order was the creation of 13 special investigation teams to look into important LWE-related cases. The first — to be called Central SIT — is expected to be constituted by April and will be headed by the SP of the JJ. There are 1,223 LWE-related cases pending in the state. “On account of work pressure at the field levels, it has been observed that adequate attention is not getting paid to investigation of such cases and chargesheets filed often do not stand scrutiny in courts…,” said the order, explaining the need to constitute the SITs.