The security forces in south Chhattisgarh have a handicap vis-a-vis the Maoists in that they have little support among the tribals. This was palpable when HT visited a few villages in and around Dantewada a day after 76 security personnel were massacred on April 6.
It was found that the tribals did not venture out of their homes or had fled, fearing a police backlash.
“The police have not been very successful in winning the confidence of villagers. Without popular backing, it’s going to be tough fighting the Maoists,” a senior police officer said.
The tribals feel distanced from the security forces, who represent state power, because of poverty and lack of development. This also explains why the security persons are bested by the Maoists when it comes to intelligence network.
With the heavy deployment of the security forces for the past eight months in the 40,000 square km area of the Bastar region, the tribals dread being caught in the crossfire between the Maoists and security forces.
The controversial anti-Maoist private army of salwa judum (peace) is also seen to be responsible for shaking the faith of the tribals in the police. Human rights activist Himanshu Kumar said the abuses committed by the salwa judum had increased the strength of the Maoists and the poor tribals still continued to face the atrocities unleashed by the forces.
However, state DGP Vishwaranjan, said the police had strengthened its network among the tribals.
“We are getting useful information from villagers who want the Maoists to be flushed out of their areas,” he said.