The Union government on Wednesday told Naxalism-affected states to brace for more attacks - particularly in areas with thin deployment of security forces - as the red rebels look to create a diversion to stave off the heat brought on by the ongoing offensive that has cornered many of its cadre.
The advisory follows a key meeting chaired by home secretary Anil Goswami in wake of Tuesday's attack in Jharkhand that killed several policemen including the Pakur district police chief Amarjit Balihar.
"There was consensus that we should not deviate from the original strategy. Go aggressively after the Maoists where they are most comfortable and raise our defences in other areas where they will retaliate," a senior home ministry official said.
Goswami is also learnt to have told the Central Reserve Police Force to assume the lead role in anti-naxal operations amidst mounting concerns that the force wasn't delivering results.
The immediate provocation for Tuesday's attack could be a series of encounters in Jharkhand's Latehar district where security forces have been fighting the armed guerrillas led by CPI (Maoist) central committee member Arvindji for more than a week.
"There is a view that the Maoists were hoping the well-planned ambush of Balihar's convoy would persuade the government to back out from Latehar," the official said, adding that Centre had sent a detailed advisory on the operational steps to be taken by the states.
But intelligence sources indicate that the bigger worry for the anti-naxal operations was the political support for the offensive, particularly with Chhattisgarh going to polls later this year and signs in Ranchi that a Jharkhand Mukhti Morcha-led government could back come to power in the state.
"To put it mildly, the JMM has traditionally been soft on Maoists and could impact the future of the operations that had picked up over the last six months," an intelligence source said.