While Maoists have had security agencies in the ‘red corridor’ on tenterhooks for years now, the roles were reversed this month, when as many as 3,000 heavily-armed CRPF and state personnel entered the dense forests of Abujmarh from four directions. They also combed adjoining Gadchiroli, in Maharashtra, for Naxalites.
During the initiative, codenamed ‘Operation Matribhumi’, security forces reportedly arrested around 12 Maoists and seized a number of weapons, home ministry sources said. They had 12-15 encounters with armed guerrillas.
Abujmarh, which extends over 4,000 sq km and is home to 40,000 villagers and tribals, has been out of bounds for security forces and civil administration officials for decades. Though small teams of security personnel used to occasionally make peripheral incursions into the jungle, they would never venture deep into the jungle.
“Though the 3,000 figure averages to less than one policeman for a square kilometre of the jungle, the message was much bigger. It went to say that we can, and will enter your ‘safe’ haven, and – in course of time – push you out of here,” a security official said.