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Union home minister Sushilkumar Shinde on Tuesday promised to take the Maoists head-on but the minister’s realisation that the security establishment should up the ante might have come a day too late.
The window for conducting anti-Maoist operations will shut in a few days when the home ministry and the security forces start preparations for holding peace during the Lok Sabha elections in the Maoist-affected districts next month.
Security officers concede the anti-Maoists operations had lost momentum, first after the Dantewada attack that killed 76 policemen in 2010 and later, after former home minister P Chidambaram moved out in 2012 and his team of officers retired.
It is not without a reason that the home ministry had been writing to the central police forces for nearly a year to step up the offensive against the Maoists. In the last letter sent out in January this year, the home ministry lamented how the anti-Maoist offensive had not “yielded result in terms of attribution among the Maoists”.
Officials point the steady decline in not just the violence profile, but also police encounters reflected how the centrally-driven operations were just holding territory rather than conducting intelligence-led operations.
A staunch critic of the centrally-driven operations, Ajai Sahni at the Institute for Conflict Management, however, suggested that too much was often made of the impact that the centrally-driven operations have had.