Govt vows payback for Sukma ambush, will overhaul strategy to deal with rebels | india-news | Hindustan Times
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Govt vows payback for Sukma ambush, will overhaul strategy to deal with rebels

In a midday attacks, Maoist militants killed 25 CRPF jawans on Monday, in one of the worst carnages of paramilitary forces in India .

india Updated: May 10, 2017 10:49 IST
Ritesh Mishra & Rajesh Ahuja
Jawans giving gun salute to CRPF personnel, killed in Sukma, at Patna airport on April 25.
Jawans giving gun salute to CRPF personnel, killed in Sukma, at Patna airport on April 25.(PTI Photo)

The government said on Tuesday it has accepted the challenge thrown by Maoists and hinted at adopting a revised strategy to tackle Left-wing insurgents who killed 25 CRPF personnel in Chhattisgarh in one of the bloodiest massacres of security personnel in India.

Union home minister Rajnath Singh, who visited Chhattisgarh capital Raipur following Monday’s ambush in south Suma, described the incident as “cold blooded murder” and is understood to have sought visible action against the rebels within two months.

The midday attack in the insurgency hotbed of Bastar is the worst since Maoist rebels -- who claim to be fighting for land rights of marginalised tribal communities – killed 75 CRPF troopers in the same region in 2010.

“It is an act of desperation. We have accepted it as a challenge. We will review the strategy and if necessary we will revisit it,” the home ministry quoted Singh as saying. He also called a meeting of 10 Maoist-affected states on May 8 to review measures to tackle what is described as India’s biggest internal security threat.

Speaking to reporters in Raipur, the minister called the ambush a “desperate attempt” to block development and said the government had taken the strike as a challenge.

“The naxals (Maoists) won’t succeed…we will revise and renew our strategy at a meeting on May 8,” he said after paying homage to the CRPF personnel at a wreath-laying ceremony.

In Delhi, home ministry officials ruled out army deployment in the Maoist-affected areas saying it was an internal security matter that it will be handled by police and paramilitary.

This is not the first time the government has ruled out using the army against the Maoists. The army had also voiced concerns over any such deployment though Air Force choppers provide logistical support to security forces on ground.

Sources said Singh asked acting CRPF chief Sudeep Lakhtakia and its former chief K Vijay Kumar, who is now a security advisor with the home ministry, to stay in Chhattisgarh and come up with a revised strategy to counter Maoist.

“The minister told them he needs results on ground within next two months and such losses of personnel are unacceptable. The minister made his displeasure known to the security brass,” said a source privy to the discussions.

In Sukma, CRPF officials speaking on condition of anonymity said the Maoists are well-versed with the movement of forces and target them when the they are most vulnerable – while having lunch.

Monday’s ambush was also mounted when the 99-strong CRPF road opening party – which provide security to workers laying roads in the Maoist stronghold – had stopped for lunch. Maoists are opposed to the road, fearing that it will make movement of security forces easier to deep within the rebel strongholds.

Several Maoist groups are active in India though most of them are said to be just rag-tag bunch of armed men involved in threatening and kidnapping for ransom. Left-wing insurgency has claimed around 10,000 lives across several states since it started in the 1960s.

The NDA government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been seeking to stem the insurgency by earmarking development funds for revolt-hit areas and improving policing.

(With agency inputs)