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A monsoon thrust against Naxalites
Manoj C G in New Delhi |
September 28, 2006 14:27 IST
The Central Reserve Police Force has launched a crackdown against Naxalites in insurgency-hit Bastar region of Chhattisgarh to recapture areas 'liberated' by the rebels, a low key but massive operation fine-tuned by former supercop K P S Gill.
The monsoon thrust, planned to surprise Naxalites who usually lie low during the rainy season, began towards the end of August and is progressing without much bloodshed, top officials of the force said in New Delhi.
The strategy is to conduct surprise raids on the basis of intelligence reports and the CRPF has so far apprehended over 100 rebels and killed two, besides seizing huge quantities of arms and ammunition.
Official figures available with PTI show that there were 24 shootouts between CRPF personnel and the Naxals in August and September, with the force losing only one jawan. Nine persons were injured during the operations. However, the 'deep penetration operation' has slowed down at several places after Naxalites destroyed government primary health centres and schools -- potential shelters for the CRPF personnel.
"They destroyed over 30 such structures this month alone and are distributing leaflets warning villagers against extending help to the security forces," a senior officer said.
The operation, planned by CRPF Director General J K Sinha and Gill, was launched in the wake of a Naxal raid on a relief camp for displaced people in Dantewada district in July that left at least 29 people dead and over 80 injured.
Now, the CRPF has directed its troops to avoid schools and hospitals while moving forward as they apprehend that such structures could be booby-trapped.
Another problem faced by the force, which is also battling left wing insurgency in several eastern states, is the lack of air support as promised by the government, senior officials said. Naxals had stepped up attacks against villagers after the launch of Salwa Judum (peace campaign) with the participation of the local population.
After the start of Salwa Judum on June four last year, over 300 villagers have been killed by insurgents and about 50,000 people from nearly 700 villages of Dantewada have taken shelter in relief camps run by the state government.
Though officials were unwilling to share operational details, sources said the force has opened a control room at Jagdalpur to oversee the operations and set up 'repeater stations' in remote jungles to boost communications. All high-frequency wireless sets operating on morse code technology have been converted to voice mode to facilitate speedy communications and company commanders have been given GPS-enabled satellite phones.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had last week described Naxalism as the biggest threat to internal security and favoured a solution based on sustained and firm police action backed by focussed development of affected regions.
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