The first signals of the Centre’s big push against Maoists are emanating from the Maharashtra-Chhattisgarh border areas.
A Maharashtra home department source, who did not wish to be identified, told Hindustan Times on Monday that more than 1,800 men of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) had been moved into the Gadchiroli, Gondia and Chandrapur jungle districts in the eastern part of the state.
In Chhattisgarh, the Border Security Force (BSF) and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) contingents are moving mostly towards the Bastar region in the south and Rajnandgaon area in the west, adjoining the Maharashtra border.
The operations would begin simultaneously from both sides, the source said, adding that in Maharashtra, the CRPF would lead the charge, while the BSF would lead in Chhattisgarh.
Vijay Raman, Special Director General of Police, CRPF, who is coordinating the anti-Maoist operations in Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Orissa, Bihar and Jharkhand, said, “For both success and setback, we have reinforcements ready.”
In the initial phase of the operation, the forces are not likely to seek air support, as their main objective will be to reclaim the areas under Maoist control. later during combing operations in the forests, air support may be asked for.
Director General of Police in Chhattisgarh Vishwaranjan, who goes only by his first name, told Hindustan Times that the operation across Maoist-dominated regions was aimed at first gradually capturing the areas from the rebels and then launch development projects in those areas.
In West Bengal, Orissa and Jharkhand, however, preparations are yet to begin. While the five-phase assembly polls through November and December will delay the operations in Jharkhand, the Bengal government is waiting for all its police stations in the Maoist-dominated areas to be fortified first.
Orissa is still uncertain about the arrival of the paramilitary forces. Sanjeev Marik, Inspector General (Operations) in Orissa, admitted, “We had been promised additional central troops. But we have not received any official confirmation.”
The West Bengal government is also expecting fresh contingents of paramilitary forces. Bhupinder Singh, director general of police, told Hindustan Times, “We have sought 17 companies (each comprising about 100 personnel) of paramilitary forces to carry out a strike in the Maoist belt.”
The situation in Bihar is hotting up. According to a self-proclaimed zonal commander of the Maoists, a women’s brigade has been raised. They have been trained to resist the CoBRA, which is likely to begin operations by the end of October or beginning of November.
The Maoists have already demonstrated their new recruits’ firepower at two rallies, including one in Thohi forests in Gaya district on Tuesday.
(With inputs from bureaus in Kolkata, Bhubaneswar and Patna)