The naxal attack in Chhattisgarh’s Sukma district on Tuesday was planned to avenge the high turnout in the recently-held assembly elections, intelligence sources said.
“At a recent central committee meeting, the naxals expressed unhappiness over the large numbers in which tribals came out to vote and talked about making amends,” a senior security official told HT.
Read: 15 security men, 1 civilian killed in Maoist ambush in Chhattisgarh
Bastar, a core area of operation for naxals in the state, had seen a record turnout of 75% in November’s assembly elections — the highest in a decade for this area comprising 18 constituencies and way above the 66% turnout in the 2009 polls.
Initial intelligence assessments indicated the attack was carried out as an attempt to destabilise the Lok Sabha elections, barely a month away, and scare voters.
Read: Maoist ambush aimed at destabilising Lok Sabha polls
A senior intelligence official told HT that the Intelligence Bureau had carried out an assessment of sensitive areas in the Red corridor — a stretch running through the heart of the country linking naxal-affected regions in nine states — and Sukma was high on the list. The same list was then shared with naxal-affected states by the home ministry.
Read: Shinde may be late in taking on outlaws
“The naxals were building up for an attack because of their inability to do much during the assembly elections. From the reports currently available with us, they were unhappy with their inability to carry out a major attack,” another security official told HT.
Read: Intel inputs failed to prevent Maoist strike
This attack took place in the same area where the rebels ambushed a Congress convoy in May last year, killing most of the party’s senior leaders, including Mahendra Karma, who had created the anti-naxal civilian militia Salwa Judum.
Read: Maoists set to strike police stations during Lok Sabha polls, Centre warns state
“This indicates the naxals have an advantage over security forces and are watching their movements. Tuesday’s road opening team was attacked from two sides and several women comprised the ambush party,” a senior CRPF official said.Officials in New Delhi and Raipur are now worried about increased attacks in the run-up to the elections in Bastar, which goes to polls on April 10. "Soon, there will be a clamour for more troops," the CRPF official said.