The center-state combined force has launched the anti-Maoist operation in a full scale to flush out the Maoists from Jangalmahal but this time with an altogether new strategy.
Instead of creating too much of hullabaloo, the security personnel are silently carrying out their job mainly by picking up key Maoist leaders one after another, recovering arms and ammunition and alienating the extremists from the common villagers. Mamata Banerjee’s government has made it clear to the force that the common and innocent people of Jangalmahal must not be harassed during the operation and the think tank of the joint force has designed the blueprint following this strict government instruction.
In order to attain the goal, Cordon and Area Searching Operation (CASO), which was an indispensable part of the anti-Maoist operation earlier, has been opted out this time. At the time of CASO, an entire village or two-three villages had be cordoned of and all villagers had to come out from their residences with their identity proofs. If security personnel suspected some of the villagers, they were detained and brought to the nearest police station or police camp.
Earlier, especially during the Left Front regime, in several occasions, the joint force was accused for doing highhandedness and harassing and assaulting innocent people at the time of carrying out CASO.
“There is always a risk of police excess in CASO. We cannot avoid it. It is then better to avoid the CASO to evade the risk of harassing innocents,” said a senior official of the state police.
“We have been asked to take extra precautions during the operation so that the innocents are not harassed by any means. Therefore, we are carrying out operations on the basis of specific and definite information. We are basically giving priority on pinpointed intelligence inputs,” Praveen Tripathi, superintendent of police in West Midnapore told Hindustan Times.
The arrest of Suman Maity alias Saota, a Maoist area commander, and the recovery of five sophisticated firearms looted from Silda EFR camp from Salboni area on Thursday are the classic examples of the success in this new style of operation.
Sources told the police that Saota was hiding at Shyamapada Mahato’s house in Pairachuli village. When the sleuths crosschecked the information and found it true, the joint force carried out the operation and started cordoning the area.
“But instead of cordoning the entire Pairachuli village, we had just barricaded Mahato’s house and adjacent three houses. These were all to avoid the risk of harassing innocents,” Tripathi told HT.
The arrest of Saota will scale down the influence of the Maoists in a vast area that falls under Salboni and Lalgarh police stations. The security force are putting stress on arresting this type of key and influential leaders so that the extremists and their supporters will find no other option but to leave this path due to lack of leadership.
“At present, to our assessment, the common people of Jangalmahal by and large are against the Maoists. Basically, they do not want to see again the days of bandh, road blockade, strike, violence, abductions and murders. We should take this advantage. But harassment of innocents during the operation can make them hostile to the joint force and the government. Therefore we have to carry out the operation in such a way so that the innocents must not be harassed at any cost. For this, definite intelligence inputs are necessary. And specific intelligence inputs have started coming. Otherwise we could not have got key men like Saota and Jayanta Mahato in recent times,” said an official of the state home department.
Similarly, the force is asked to open the fire if only the Maoists first attack them and if the Maoists try to flee. Again, the firing should be aimed at the lower portion of the target.