Ever since the Greyhounds of Andhra Pradesh chased Maoists away, the hostile terrain of neighbouring Chhattisgarh has become their hub.
The iron ore-rich but impoverished Bastar region has emerged as a stronghold of the Leftist insurgents. The region is home to tribals, and Maoists exploit their poverty to swell their ranks.
With no healthcare and education reaching the interiors and corruption derailing welfare programmes for the tribals, the region has become a fertile ground for the Maoists’ anti-government agenda.
“As Maoist violence in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh went down over the past five years, it simultaneously picked up in Bastar. Top Maoist leaders shifted their base to Chhattisgarh,” a senior intelligence officer said.
The Abhujmad area in Bastar constitutes a large part of the zone declared “liberated” by the Maoists. Narayanpur, where Tuesday’s attack took place, is a part of it.
The intelligence officer said poor coordination between the state police and central forces was another reason why Maoists had become so strong here.
“No lessons are being learnt from previous deadly attacks. The Maoists have better information about the terrain and always outdo the police when in comes to intelligence (gathering) in the difficult forested realm of Bastar,” the officer said.
The tribals have no faith in the security forces. On the other hand, the Maoists enjoy significant support among them.
“The Maoists are getting more aggressive and attacking the forces since they don’t wish to let any joint security operation succeed in the area, where they have established themselves in the last three decades,” said P.V. Ramanna, an expert on Maoists.
Chhattisgarh’s Director General of Police Vishwaranjan told HT that the state has chalked out a plan to reclaim the areas and ensure development. “It is a long-drawn war,” he said. “We are not holding our forces out there now owing to strategic reasons in our fight against the rebels.”