The CRPF operation in Jharkhand’s Latehar was spurred by ‘specific actionable intelligence’ that Arvind alias Dev Kumar Singh, a member of the Maoist central committee, was camping in the area. The problem was, the Maoists were more than prepared to defend their leader, and the operation cost the CRPF a few good men.
“There was specific information that Arvind was camping in this area, guarded by about 100 well-armed men,” said a top security official.
This is a repeat of a similar operation conducted in the past to nab the top Maoist leader. The last one was undertaken a few months ago in Chakradhalpur, a Maoist hub in Jharkhand’s Saranda forests, and the CRPF had incurred casualties in that operation too.
Arvind, who underwent a rapid ascendance in Maoist hierarchy, was reported to have moved into Chakradhalpur from the Burhapahar area of Latehar. An attempt to nab him near Burhapahar had also failed.
Arvind, who is in his late fifties, hails from Sikaria village in Bihar’s Jehanabad district. Officials say his son is an IIT graduate.
Since last month, security forces — comprising the CRPF, Cobra force, Jharkhand police commandos and the India Reserve Battalion (IRB) — have been engaged in an anti-Maoist operation, codenamed ‘Anaconda 2’, in the Saranda forests of West Singbhum district.
The first phase of the five-month-long Operation Anaconda 1, which started in mid-2011, had yielded considerable success for the security forces.
From 2008-09, there had been serious reverses for the Maoists in Jharkhand, Bengal, Bihar and large parts of Orissa. About half of the 35-40 members comprising the central panel are either dead or behind bars.
Besides combating battle-hardened Maoist guerrillas, security forces are trying to handle logistical problems in Saranda, including lack of permanent camps. So intense is the fear of naxals that the Jharkhand police are finding it difficult to convince contractors to take up projects concerning security infrastructure.
According to home ministry estimates in 2011, as many as 182 districts had been affected in relative degrees by the Maoist movement, indicating a sharp drop from 223 districts across 20 states in 2008.