The Bastar division in Chhattisgarh is witnessing high incidence of Maoists activities of late, with Bijapur district reporting six killings by the rebels in a fortnight. In the neighbouring Sukma district, Maoists have made two families leave a village for allegedly helping the police.
Police from Bastar division, under which Bijapur and Sukma fall, have said the rebels are acting out of desperation.
On September 4, two men were killed by the Maoists on Dantewada-Bijapur border for allegedly helping the police. The next day, three villagers from Pusnar and one from Metapal were killed in the forest of Dumri-Palnar. On September 11, a forest range officer from Bhairamgadh region was killed by Maoists while he had gone to Kondronji village in Bijapur to pay wages to villagers for road work. In Sukma districts, a jan militia court asked 12 members of two families to leave their village Palamadgu last week after accusing one family of being police informants and the other of having family members working with the police. While the families have been given temporary shelter by district authorities, they are worried to return to their village.
According to senior police officers, Maoists are going after “soft targets” because they are unable to inflict any big damage on the security forces. “Chasing soft targets and getting attention out of killing villagers is a way of terrorising villagers into supporting them and boosting morale in their cadres,” a senior police officer said.
According to Bijapur SP Kamlochan Kashyap, “We have been foiling their plans that could inflict damage on the security personnel and they haven’t been able to carry out anything substantial for months now. The frustration is coming out on the lone targets.”
According to Bastar IG P Sundarraj, the recent incidents are lone instances of Maoists trying to inflict damage with small teams while battling their own problems. On September 8, after an encounter, Chhattisgarh police found a letter among the items at a Maoist camp. “The letter we found was in Gondi and addressed to a senior militia cadre as ‘Didi’. Our understanding is that it might be the DKSZC (Dandakaranya Special Zonal Committee) member Sujatha. The letter has been written from a divisional militia commander and it addressed the fact that their supply channels of medicines, uniform and other things have become defunct because of the Coronavirus. It is our understanding that due to the lockdown and constant patrolling of inter-state and inter-district boundaries, they are unable to get their supplies and are in bad condition,” Sundarraj said.
“We are investigating the independent cases and what we found is that the Naxals are getting their work done from the villagers and local committee members. They are going after soft targets and are involving a lot of locals and less of their own men. We are making headway and arresting those suspected,” Kashyap said.