Joint operation has Maoists on the run

March 20th, 2008 - 12:30 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh
By Sujeet Kumar
Raipur, March 20 (IANS) Faced with a joint operation of commandos of three states for the first time, hundreds of well-armed Maoist guerrillas are on the run from a sprawling forested area mainly covering Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh - known as India’s Maoist bastion. Young men and women who dreamt of capturing state power armed with rocket launchers and AK-47 rifles are now up against the joint forces of three states that also include Maharashtra. Police officers in charge say they will not rest till the Maoist militants are crushed.

A joint operation of the commandos of the three states that began last week has made considerable gains in dismantling Maoist bases in Chhattisgarh’s southern dense forests of Abujhmad, spread over some 4,000 sq km, security officials say

This is where the outlawed Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) had dozens of war training facilities and arms manufacturing units besides what the authorities say is a ‘research and development unit’ to produce better weapons.

Police officials in Chhattisgarh say that the Maoists have a vast network in Abujhmad from where they virtually control their movement in 13 Indian states. The police had never dared to enter the forested area, a part of Bastar region. Giving a protective ring to the area were deadly landmines the Maoists had buried.

But commandos made a successful entry into Abujhmad for the first time in three decades with the help of de-mining squads. The security forces claim they forayed up to 400 sq km into the forests and dismantled their terror network.

“Our commandos pushed back Maoists in several kilometres inside. The Maoists are on the run for the first time in decades in their own territory,” Inspector General Girdhari Nayak, who heads Chhattisgarh’s Maoist operations, told IANS.

The joint operation destroyed over a dozen well-equipped hideouts of guerrillas. And officials say that the second phase of the crackdown will be more lethal.

“We are going to spell havoc for them. If they can hit police and civilians after coming out of the forests and then go back to their bases, now it is their turn to face the music,” a source in the home department said.

“We are not guerrillas, we are not going just for attacks. We will clear their landmines, finish off their bases and occupy the land,” the source added.

Another officer added: “The countdown has begun. The Maoists have started conceding their safest zones. We will go on till Maoists and Maoism are finished from Bastar in general and from Abujhmad in particular.”

Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh told IANS: “We now have a massive corps of guerrilla warfare trained policemen. The Maoists will find it tough to handle them.”

The Maoists suffered one of the biggest setbacks last week when a joint operation by Andhra Pradesh’s elite Greyhounds and the Chhattisgarh Police led to the death of 17 senior guerrillas in Bijapur in Bastar region.

For years, more so since the People’s War Group (PWG) and the Maoist Communist Centre (MCC) joined forces, the guerrillas had transformed the largely inaccessible forests in Chhattisgarh bordering Andhra Pradesh as their bastion.

From here, they control a vast pan-India network, forcing Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to describe the Maoists as the biggest security challenge to the Indian state.

Now the police are determined to end it all.

The government estimates that about 4,000 hardcore Maoists armed with AK-47 rifles, rocket launchers, light machine guns and self-loading rifles are active in the southern tip of Chhattisgarh.

Also in the picture are 35,000-40,000 second rank Maoists and their sympathisers. Violence blamed on the insurgents has claimed thousands of lives since the Maoist insurgency broke out in 1967 in a West Bengal village called Naxalbari.

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