The Chhattisgarh police have frittered away the advantages gained in the war against Maoists by abruptly withdrawing their operation against them.
This is likely to give the Left-wing extremists in the region the elbow-room to regain their authority in the forest villages of the southern part of the state, which is called the Bastar region.
Though the Maoists suffered heavily in Operation Red Hunt, the name given to the offensive, the state police had to retreat because of the difficult terrain, food and water not being available, and the lack of a communication network.
“We have withdrawn our forces,” said T.J. Longkumer, inspector-general (IG) of police, Bastar region.
He said that the Maoists got the support of their comrades from Andhra Pradesh and over 300 of the red brigade from the neighbouring state reached the place to provide assistance.
Dantewada (south Bastar district) Superintendent of Police Amrish Mishra, who supervised the operation, said that troopers had to walk over 30 km to the encounter site because one cannot take a vehicle there.
“This is the first time in history that the police entered the area and challenged the Maoists,” Mishra added.
The launch against Maoists, started on September 18, was the first all-out offensive by the Chhattisgarh police in the forest villages of south Bastar.
Over 30 Maoists and six police personnel, including two assistant commanders of the Commando Battalion for Resolute Act (COBRA), an elite unit of the paramilitary outfit Central Reserve Police Force, were killed in gun battles near Singhanmadgu village in the Palachalma Reserve Forest area, some 300 km from here, on September 18 and 19.
The state police had also busted the rebels’ unit for weapons production and seized arms and ammunition.
The Maoists were making weapons using a high-powered generator. Almost all the villagers of Singhanmadgu and four nearby hamlets — Burglanka, Pamlur, Palachalma and Aitrajpada — had received arms from the Maoists.
It was the armed villagers of Singhanmadgu who first put up resistance before the police and paramilitary forces, and provided a safe passage to senior Maoist leaders.