Security forces are fighting a prolonged battle with the Maoists to gain control over the so-called liberated zone in Chhattisgarh.
The rebels have the upper hand in Dantewada and Bijapur districts in south Bastar, running a parallel administration in several areas there.
“Since the last couple of years we have firmly embarked upon our plans to reclaim the areas. It’s a long-drawn war,” Chhattisgarh Director General of Police Vishwaranjan told HT.
“We are not holding our forces out there now owing to strategic reasons.”
In one of the deadliest strikes carried out by the rebels, 76 security personnel were trapped and shot dead in the forests of Mukrana in Dantewada on Tuesday.
Vishwaranjan said nearly 40 per cent of the ‘liberated zone’ had already been reclaimed from the Maoists, and the fight for the rest was on.
“Reclaiming would, of course, be a gradual process,” he said. “We are aggressive in our mission.”
Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh virtually blamed undivided Madhya Pradesh — which included Chhattisgarh — for the Maoist problem, claiming that the area was
then devoid of good governance and treated as a backward region, which helped the Maoist movement gain momentum.
“Our armed action to reclaim areas dominated by the Maoists will continue,” the chief minister said. “Civil administration will gradually be established in these areas.”
Dantewada, spread across more than 10,000 sq km in south Chhattisgarh, is at the heart of the liberated zone.
Abhujmad — a vast area of around 40,000 sq km spread across Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra —
constitutes a large part of the liberated zone as declared by the rebels, according to state officials. Rebels are said to be in control of hospitals, post offices and state-run schools here.
The rebels claim to have established ‘janata sarkar’ — people’s rule — in parts of Abhujmad through a sustained ‘people’s war’.