Preparations are under way for India's biggest, most-organised offensive ever against the 42-year-old Naxalite insurgency that is now the country’s biggest internal threat.
Home Minister P. Chidambaram will go on a whirlwind tour of the two most Naxal-affected states – Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand – to review preparations of security forces for the coming offensive, slated for after the Maharashtra elections in October, home ministry sources said.
An additional 20,000 security men, who have trained by the army, are being sent to Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand to add to the 35,000 already stationed there. They are being withdrawn from Jammu and Kashmir, the north-eastern states and elsewhere.
The battles will be fought in the jungles of central and eastern India, which is where the Naxals have their stronghold. “All those being sent has been put through four weeks of rigorous training to prepare them for life in the jungles,” a ministry official said.
“We teach the boys to make friends with the jungle, to learn the art of turning what seems to be a hurdle, into an advantage,” said Brigadier Basant Kumar Ponwar, director of the Counter Terrorism and Jungle Warfare College in Kanker, Chhattisgarh, where many of the forces are being trained.
Apart from reviewing the preparations, Chidambaram will also iron out any small differences over detail to ensure a smooth operation. The Centre and the affected states, whatever their political differences, have agreed on a joint strategy, except for, said the official, ‘some murmurs of protest’.
A media campaign will run alongside to remind people of the senseless violence — unsparing of women and children — Naxals engage in.