Tuesday's attack that killed the Pakur SP appeared to be an "opportunistic ambush" by the Maoists aimed at making their presence felt after suffering steady attritions, K Vijay Kumar, the home ministry adviser on anti-naxal operations, said.
The home ministry believes the attack could also be aimed at helping the Maoists gain a toe-hold in Pakur district where they have a negligible presence. Intelligence agencies have reported that the Maoists only had a small guerrilla squad in Pakur which may have carried out Tuesday's attack.
That incidents of Maoist violence in this area are few and far between seems to have lulled the local police into a false sense of security.
"The Maoists clearly exploited this situation," a home ministry official said.
Maoists have lost many of its cadre in Jharkhand in gunfights with the police and arrests of senior leaders such as Anoop Thakur and Inderjeet, a platoon commander operating in Bihar and Jharkhand in recent months. Both were close associates of the CPI (Maoist) central committee member Arvindji.
According to a recent home ministry review, the offensives had reduced the strength of the military companies of the Maoists from 1,000 last year to around 600.
"This is the estimated strength of the hardcore well-armed Maoist military company fighters and does not take local guerrilla squads into account," a home ministry official said.
It was in the backdrop of such a situation that Maoists were looking for an opportunity to hit back to make their presence felt, said Kumar, who till recently was adviser to the Jharkhand governor and oversaw the state's offensive against the naxals.
Kumar was last month inducted into the union home ministry to coordinate the central offensive.
Asked if the Pakur attack - close on the heels of the May 25 Maoist attack on Congress leaders in Jhiram Ghati - was part of a centrally-planned retaliatory action by the Maoists against the security operations, Kumar said this may not necessarily correct. At the moment there is no information to indicate such a conclusion.
Instead, the attacks could also be part of the Tactical Counter Offensive Campaign that Maoists carry out every year from February to June-July. Sometimes, they carry out operations in the beginning of this campaign and then, the attacks peter out. This year, it seems the Maoist attacks have picked up towards the end of the TCOC period.