Following Sunday night’s attack on securitymen in Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada that cost seven lives, chief minister Raman Singh sent out a clear message to launch an all-out offensive against Maoists.
The anti-Maoist operation had been stalled after the abduction of Sukma collector Alex Menon. But on Monday, signaling a hardening of stance, Singh said, “To build consensus for peace initiative in the region now appears a remote possibility, going by the recent violence.”
Late on Sunday night, Maoists had ambushed a group of security personnel near the Kirandul-based iron ore screening plant of NMDC. Six security personnel and a driver died. Though the Kirandul-Bacheli mines are a Maoist hotbed and the forces are targeted frequently, the brutality of Sunday’s attack (see box) has shocked the administration and the police.
The Centre has always maintained that it was open to a dialogue, but Maoists have to quit violence first. But negating the possibility of talks, state home minister Nanki Ram Kanwar told HT, “How long will we continue a soft stance? There is no point in holding discussions with Maoists. The situation now demands that nothing should hold us back and everything is thrown at them.”
Later in the evening, the chief minister convened a meeting of senior officials, where the security forces were told to give up “the defensive mindset that hampers operations”.
“We have decided to revise the strategy,” a senior official told HT. The forces will now virtually be given a free hand to retaliate and go ahead with the area domination operation.
Already, more policemen have been dispatched to the forest to flush out the ultras. The CISF may also increase its troop strength in the area.“It needs to be seen if the home ministry can spare more forces for the state,” a senior government official in Delhi said.
(With PTI inputs)
Jeep had 120 bullet holes
One target, 120 bullets. And a bunch of tiffin bombs planted 50 meters away. It was obvious that the Maoists were not taking any chances on Sunday while attacking the Bolero jeep of CISF personnel in Dantewada’s Kirandul.
The ambush of six jawans, who were on their way to NDMC’s Kirandul’s iron ore screening plant for a duty change, was well planned.
“The security forces, in particular the CISF, follow the usual routes. The Maoists must have been monitoring their movement,” said Narendra Khare, superintendent of police, Dantewada.
The 30-strong Maoist group had opened fire from three directions, leaving little scope for the jawans to retaliate, said an intelligence officer. And the attack was ruthless. “The jeep had 120 bullet holes,” he said.
Ejaz Kaiser, Raipur