For the first time, the Indian establishment will target the Maoist leadership by going after the security blanket that surrounds it, by deploying additional troops of the Central Reserve Police Force(CRPF) in Chhattisgarh, ThePrint has learnt.
The Central Committee of CPI (Maoist) is protected by an entity called the Central Regional Command (CRC), and five new CRPF battalions will be posted to the Sukma and Bijapur districts, where the CRC is most active, state police officials said.
Officials said the new battalion camps will hold 30 CRPF companies, which will be stationed at gaps of five to six kilometres, thus being able to spread out over 150 km between Sukma and Bijapur. The plan is to bring around 1,500 square kilometres of the Maoist-stronghold territory under their control. The officials said these are the areas where the state government and the police have failed to connect to the masses directly even now.
The officials added that the recent visit of K. Vijay Kumar, the Union home ministry’s senior security adviser, to Chhattisgarh was aimed at reconnaissance and consultation with state authorities on how to tackle the CRC.
CRC’s ‘battalion 1’, led by dreaded Naxal leader Hidma, was a focal point of Kumar’s visit, which accelerated the decision to deploy additional CRPF troops. The adviser visited Sukma, Bijapur, Dantewada and Bastar districts of the larger Bastar division, and though he was also there to consult officials, his prime concern remained the CRC and the massive presence of Naxals in five core areas of the Sukma and Bijapur forests.
Police officers hail the move
A senior police officer in the Bastar region said, on the condition of anonymity, “According to our information, three or four members of the CPI (Maoist)’s CC are under round-the-clock protection of the CRC, which consists of more than 100 armed Naxalites. The main objective is to deploy CRPF camps in the Sukma-Bijapur forest areas is to tighten noose around the armed CRC contingent holed up in the area.”
The officer added: “Two of the CRPF battalions have already arrived here, and are undergoing induction course. Deployment process will start once induction training is over.”
Bijapur SP Kamlochan Kashyap told ThePrint, “The deployment of five new CRPF battalions will help in containment of Naxals mainly in their core areas of Sukma and Bijapur. This part of Bastar (region) will be the key area of operations for security forces in coming days, mainly because most of the Maoists’ activities in the state are concentrated here. Even Naxals of the most-affected Narayanpur district also sneak into the Sukma-Bijapur forest cover.”
Another senior police officer heading anti-Naxal operations in the Bastar region added: “Currently, the CRC is mostly active in the forests of Sukma and Bijapur districts. The CC members in its protection are top functionaries of CPI (Maoist) in the state. They are responsible for all Maoists activities in the state. Deployment of new CRPF battalions will definitely lead to the tightening of the noose around them.”
Dantewada SP Abhishek Pallava said: “The new deployments of CRPF will smoke out the Maoists’ ‘battalion 1’ led by their most wanted leader Hidma, or send them on the run. It will cut their service lines and curtail their movements as well.”
Officials didn’t share information about the exact location where the additional CRPF battalions will be deployed in the core areas of the forests. However, they did say four broad areas have been finalised by state police department for setting up CRPF camps.
An order issued by the office of Chhattisgarh’s special director general of anti-Naxal operations on 27 November directed the SPs of Sukma and Bijapur districts will have to ensure complete deployment of the CRPF forces at identified locations, and provide due security support.
Bastar Inspector-General Sundarraj P. said, “Not all the information can be shared for security reasons, but new CRPF camps will be set up in the southern areas of Sukma and Bijapur. These areas are considered to be Naxal strongholds. One reason for this is that their hold in the northern Bastar and Darbha Valley area, once considered their bastion, is gradually weakening, which has increased their presence here.”