Could Chhattisgarh’s U-type Maoist ambush have been averted?
Union home minister Amit Shah, who reached Chhattisgarh on Monday, said that the fight against Maoists will be intensified and shall be won. The gruesome attack on security forces was carried out by Maoists on Saturday at Bijapur-Sukma districts’ border and claimed at least 22 lives. A senior Chhattisgarh police officer, requesting anonymity, said there was a lack of strategic planning somewhere. The question remains - was it possible to avert the attack or mitigate the number of casualties?
A police officer said Madvi Hidma, the mastermind of the ambush, planned to lure the security forces and had been training his cadre to carry out the attack for many days.
“Hidma planned to lure security forces but for 15 days the security personnel did not reach the area. Hidma was getting desperate,” a police officer said.
“Over 300 armed cadres from different parts of Bastar gathered close to the encounter spot on Hidma’s directive,” the officer said.
What went wrong?
A senior Chhattisgarh police officer, who requested anonymity, said there was a lack of strategic planning somewhere. “We had information about their strength but somewhere there was a lack of strategic planning. We also underestimated the efficiency of the Maoists. It seems that they trained extensively in the terrains,” the officer stated.
“They tactically targeted the commanders of the security forces, which led to total disarray in command and control,” said an intelligence officer.
What could have averted the damage?
Senior officials of Chhattisgarh Police believe the specialised anti-Maoist security forces (COBRA, DRG, STF) should have been used at a much larger scale for such specific intelligence operations. The striking force didn’t have enough personnel hence the Chhattisgarh Police personnel were outnumbered, officials said.
“Ambush sites were not adequately covered by the security forces, which should have been the priority,” a senior official said.
“The security personnel were caught unaware and were at a disadvantageous position as rebels kept firing from the top of the hills on two sides. It was a U-type ambush,” said another police officer.
He said the encounter will force the security forces to have a strategy re-think as the forces cannot provide Maoists with any more strategic advantage in the encounters.