.After a period of relative calm, the Maoists have signalled that they have not given up their violent ways in no uncertain terms. Last week, the Red Army, which operates in 20 of the country’s 28 states, ambushed CRPF personnel in Jharkhand’s Latehar district, killing 13 people including a villager. The police fear that the toll may go up since the search operation has been extremely slow as the Maoists are hiding in the thick forests that surround the area. On Friday, the police made the first breakthrough with the arrest of the general secretary of the Maoists’ Koel-Sankh Zonal Committee, Prabhat Mochi. He confessed to have inserted bombs into bodies of slain soldiers and said that the Naxals wanted to break the morale of the security forces by using such techniques.
The attack has once focused attention on the State’s preparedness, or lack of it, in tackling the Maoists. In fact, even as there was news of skirmishes on the Line of Control, some of the weapons found with the Maoists have clear markings that show that they have been sourced from Pakistan even though it is still not clear whether the Maoists have direct contact with agencies in that country. As far as India’s Maoists strategy goes, there has been much criticism of the way things are being handled. While over the years, India has grown aware of the threat, the efforts to counter it have come under fire from insurgency experts. Many of them argue that the strategy is manpower-intensive and enemy-centric and only pays “lip service” to a “population-centric strategy”.
Even though there were many local factors that helped the Maoists in Latehar, the attack shows once again that there has been an intelligence failure at some level or the other. While this needs to be investigated, the discovery of weapons which seem to be from Pakistan means that the State will now have to investigate the wider linkages and get organisations like Natgrid into the picture. This is an unenviable task, but one which bears no procrastination.