In a significant IED attack in Dantewada in Chhattisgarh on April 26, the Naxals ambushed a team of District Reserve Guard, resulting in the loss of life of 10 along with the vehicle's driver, a civilian.
Clearly the unfortunate local policemen fell into a carefully laid Naxal trap even as the high stakes battle for the security narrative is expected to intensify in the election year ahead.
The ambush in Bhatta Dorian in Poonch sector in J & K was also a part of the same campaign of information even as the actual potential of Left Wing Extremists and J & K terrorists has been greatly marginalized, but the potential of carrying out targeted attacks on security forces remains. This will be employed to keep the State on notice.
The attack on the DRG comes as the Naxals have launched the annual 'tactical counter-offensive campaign (TCOC)' from April to June before onset of monsoons. This year the TCOC is more critical as Chhattisgarh State will be going in for Assembly elections, and thus, the Maoists would like to impact the same, attempting to denote limited influence of the State.
During this period, there is a general increase in the number of attacks which has been evident in the past few weeks.
Chhattisgarh Congress MLA Vikram Mandavi had a narrow escape after Maoists fired at his convoy on the outskirts of Bijapur town in Bastar division when he returned from a 'nukkadsabha'. This comes weeks after two BJP state workers were attacked and lost their lives.
Naxal IED Warning in Jharkhand
In fact, in Jharkhand, the Naxals have warned the villagers of vulnerability to improvised explosive device (IED) explosions in the Naxal-hit areas of West Singhbhum district. The South Chotanagpur zonal committee of the Maoists circulated a purported letter dated April 17.
In a tactical milieu, where the area of operations of the Naxals has significantly reduced, IEDs have become a weapon of choice. Unfortunately, the DRG were not warned of the possibility and were travelling in a non-IED proof vehicle returning from an operation or the IED laid was a massive one.
The information on which the operation was launched could have been baited by the Naxals to target the security forces using an IED.
While the area under Naxal influence has been reduced, it is relevant to note that the rebels have the capability to launch targeted operations exploiting weaknesses of security operations.
As India goes for general elections in the coming year, anti-state forces will attempt to carry
out such attacks to portray the narrative of insecurity.
Overall Progress in Control of LWE
The number of LWE-related violent incidents decreased by 77% in 2022 compared to the high of 2010. The number of resultant deaths (Security Forces + Civilians) also reduced by 90% in 2022 as compared to the high of 2010. This was stated by the Minister of State for Home Affairs, Shri Nityanand Rai, in a written reply to a question in the Lok Sabha recently. Details of LWE-related violent incidents and deaths in Chhattisgarh during the last five years.
Signaling the State
On January 07, Union Home Minister Amit Shah declared that the aim of the Union government is to make the country free from Maoism before the 2024 parliamentary elections while addressing a rally at Indira stadium in Chhattisgarh’s Korba city as per multiple media sources.
Clearly the Maoists possibly want to demonstrate to the Government limitations of achieving the objective outlined by the Home Minister.
No doubt the State will launch an intensive counter offensive even as the rebels may melt away in the jungle just as they have done in Jharkhand recently.
The battle of the narratives will be complemented by operations on the ground by both sides in the coming year ahead, the State will win no doubt but divisive groups will continue to send tactical messages of consequence to the unfortunate victims.