Not more than two security persons guarded Sukma collector Alex Paul Menon (32) during his movements in the high-risk areas of his district.
"At times he used to send back even the two persons moving with him," said SR Mahilang, additional collector, Sukma.
It didn't take long for the Maoists to discover that abducting the weakly guarded collector could facilitate their tactical campaign and increased military activities, which begin in mid-April each year.
By taking captive the top officer of a district in the red zone, the guerrillas eventually turned the situation to their advantage at a time of the year when the rebels begin their tactical counter-offensive campaign (TCOC).
"The rebels must have studied his movements and his security cover for some weeks. Finding the occasion right in Majhipara, they succeeded in their mission," said Brigadier (retd) BK Ponwar.
Soon the demands of the red brigade were listed. The government agreed to halt operations against the Maoists, and the paramilitary forces were sent to the barracks.
Thus the ground was cleared for the CPI (Maoist) to carry out the TCOC. The rebels, during this time, enhance their military strength and capability, recruit people, organise meetings in villages, plant landmines, and also plan their next step.
"Police operations gain momentum from April to June, when visibility is high and the time is ideal for the movement of security forces," said policeman Ratan Lal Dangi.
A top police officer who carried out operations during his more than two years as Bastar zone inspector general of police said: "The Maoists were shaken when their stronghold was breached in March in the densely forested hilly terrain of Abujhmad in Bastar. They were desperate to carry out their TCOC across Bastar to regain their military strength and infuse confidence in their cadre."
"The TCOC used to be for two to three weeks but over the past couple of years they are now holding it for two months - from April 15 to June15," the officer said.