Security Forces Clearance Operations
months, security forces have made bold forays into hitherto forbidden
territories such as Saranda Forest and Koel-Sankh in Jharkhand and Abuj-maad in
Chhattisgarh. Operation Haka was launched by the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF)
in Chhattisgarh. “More than an
operation, it was an exploration of the unknown,” CRPF inspector-general
(operations) in Raipur, Pankaj Kumar Singh, said, “We needed to understand the
terrain — and debunk myths we ourselves had built up.” In a terrain stretching 95km north to south
and 55km east to west, each of the three teams ventured 80-110km. In the
preparatory phase, UAV sorties helped identify eight plateaus on the Maadh
where choppers could land in an emergency. Haka achieved a psychological
victory, claim CRPF and state police officers. “We now know the terrain, the
hamlets, and where all the plateaus exist,” Longkumer said. While 5,000 sq km
of Abujhmaad lies in Chhattisgarh, roughly 1,000 sq km falls in Maharashtra.
“It was a
gamble in blind. We had studied satellite maps, but were prepared to come
across an entirely different scenario,” says S S Gill, Commandant of 206 CoBRA battalion.
Gill began with a team from Dhondaraj, Gadchiroli, on March 10 and crossed
through Maad area of Chhattisgarh. Two other CoBRA teams entered Maad through
Kurusnar in Narainpur, Chhattisgarh on March 13, led by 201 CoBRA Battalion
Commandant Dilip Ambesh and 202 CoBRA Battalion Commandant Ravindra. [Details
of operations have also been covered in the April issue]
Jharkhand, personnel belonging to CRPF and Jharkhand Jaguar launched operations
for clearance of Burha Pahad, under the Maoist Koel-Sankh zone that covers
districts of Gumla, Palamau, Garhwa and Latehar in Jharkhand and Balrampur and
Ambikapur in Chhattisgarh. Here the Maoists gave stiff resistance. “We believe
the Maoist operation is being led by politburo member Dev Kumar Singh, alias
Nishant, and he is holding on,” said a government source. Here the operations
are still continuing.
plan of the security forces to target the Naxals in Central India is to
gradually dominate the areas where they
have been having their bases and which have not seen any government activity in
the past. Thus the Saranda forest in Jharkhand, the Abujmadh area in
Chhattisgarh and the Koel Sankh area is now being cleared that would ensure
that areas for establishment of bases are squeezed and the Maoists are forced
out of their hides thereby having to either split their forces or move to the
other areas where security presence is limited. This process of clearance of
the hold outs has so far been successful in ensuring that the security forces
gain control over areas that had been virtually Maoist territory in the past.
The penetration of the Abujmadh forest is good
news of success for counter Naxal forces which has led to eviction of the
Maoists from the heartland of their strong holds in the unmapped jungles of
Chhattisgarh. This area which was not accessed by security forces for long and
had no maps or photographs so far which could facilitate launching of
operations has been successfully penetrated by the CRPF. While the cache or
number of militants who have been killed or apprehended is minimal it is
apparent that rebels choose to speed away rather than give a stiff fight. Now
holding this area would require a large quantum of force which may be tied down
for long to ensure that the rebels are not provided an opportunity to regain
lost, “territory.” Even then the challenge is not just about territory but also
about the hold over the people in whom the battle remains even or mostly in
favour of the rebels.
Ministry has thus indicated that despite these operations, the results remain
sub-optimal, especially in areas under the control of Area or Zonal Committees
operating in Bihar-Jharkand-North Chhattisgarh, Andhra-Odisha and Dandakaranya.
Jan Adalats and military training camps continue to be held with impunity. Economic infrastructure and so-called police
informers continue to be targeted and extortion is rampant.