Directed by the union home ministry, joint forces comprising state and central paramilitary forces are combing the hills and suspected hideouts of Maoist rebels in Jharkhand's Latehar district, one of India's highly Maoist affected district. The operation launched early last week is continuing in full swing despite the late monsoon showers in the area.
Police said the ongoing combing operation is a part of the security forces’ strategy for setting up Forward Camping Site (FCS) or base camps at strategic locations in highly naxal infested areas of the district. The base camps are to be set in certain regions which are still considered to be highly under the influence of the CPI (Maoists) and where the presence of security arrangements was minimal.
The entire exercise is also aimed to flush away the rebels from the state ahead of the forthcoming assembly elections. The security forces have already set up new base camps at strategic locations during this operation.
“Liberating areas beyond Saryu from the clutches of the CPI (Maoists) and ensuring area domination by the security forces in those areas is one of the prime objectives of this operation,” informed one CRPF officer refusing to be quoted. The CRPF 11 Battalion commandant SD Pandey said, “There is no looking back now. We will only rest once the task is completed.”
Penetration of forces into their home turf has not gone down well with the Maoists who have attacked the forces' camps at Kukku and Ambatikar in the last five days. A Maoists squad attacked a base camp at Ambatikar around 9 pm on Tuesday night. Forces camping here retaliated resulting in an exchange of fire which lasted nearly for an hour.
The rebels had recently stalled the construction of an ambitious bridge on North Koel River in Saryu region and asked the contractor not to proceed further without their orders. The Maoists action has jeopardised the success of the Saryu Area Development Action Plan launched by former union minister, Jairam Ramesh to develop the rebel hit district.
“We have reports about presence of senior (CPI) Maoist leaders in the hills,” Latehar police superintendent Michael Raj said. “We receive directives from the union home ministry on a routine basis and act according to them,” he added.
Major LWE incidents of Latehar
· Former Chatra MP Inder Singh Namdhari’s escort vehicle ambushed in Garu killing 12 security personnel and two civilians on 3 December, 2011
· Four police personnel including a sub Inspector killed in an IED explosion on NH-99 near Balumath in 1 February, 2012
· Over 300 Maoists cadres attack Balumath town, blast up-pramukh’s house on 22 February, 2012
· 12 CRPF personnel killed in an encounter with the Maoists in Kataiya forest on 6 January, 2013; four civilians also killed in IED explosion the next day
· Maoists forcibly induct school kids in outfit. One Class Two student die while undergoing explosives training on 18 September, 2013
· Maoists capture NH-75 for over 24 hours, ambush the former DGP’s escort party on 9December, 2013