The Maoists’ call for boycotting the Lok Sabha elections has charged up the atmosphere in three Uttar Pradesh districts – Sonebhadra, Mirzapur and Chandauli – which form part of the Red Corridor.
While the central authorities are deploying extra manpower to conduct elections in the four worst-hit states — Jharkhand, Bihar, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh – the three UP districts will be largely policed by the Provincial Armed Constabulary, besides the CRPF.
The forces have already moved to the rural areas of the three districts since they have common borders with the four Maoist-hit states where the Peoples Liberation Guerrilla Army (PLGA) — the military wing of the CPI (Maoist) — has considerable clout.
Inspector general (law and order) Amrendra Kumar Sengar said the Maoists have influence in 293 villages in Sonebhadra district, 107 in Mirzapur and 241 in Chandauli.
The hilly terrain with a thick forest cover and lack of communication facilities are major challenges for the police force during combing operations. The four state police forces will set up common-frequency wireless sets in the area for quick sharing of information.
Prakash D, IGP, Varanasi zone, told HT that the state police would coordinate with the four states to launch joint operations. He said, “We’ve prepared a list of Maoist cadres wanted in previous cases. The Uttar Pradesh police have also sent the list to MP, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand.”
State intelligence department reports said besides using villages in the three districts as hideouts, the PLGA was spreading out to other adjacent districts — Ballia, Ghazipur, Kushinagar, Maharajganj, Gorakhpur and Shravasti — to stretch the Red Corridor to Nepal.
The Maoists have divided the state into three parts.
While the area north of the Ganga is managed by the Uttarakhand, North Bihar and Uttar Pradesh special area committee, the central and western UP is under the west-central area committee.
The Bihar-Jharkhand area committee controls Mirzapur, Chandauli and Sonebhadra.
A strategy meeting of the officers of UP and MP will be held in Allahabad on March 11, while another meeting will be held with officers from Jharkhand, Bihar and Chhattisgarh after the Holi.
Though there has been no major Maoist activity in Uttar Pradesh since 2004 when around a dozen police personnel were killed in a landmine blast in Chandauli, the Maoists have made their presence felt in the districts located on the borders.