State sends SOS to Centre
As Naxalites continue to focus on soft targets to make their presence felt in Chhattisgarh, the state government is asking the Centre for additional security forces promised to them to be able to tighten the grip on Maoist guerrillas.
Over the last few days, the Naxalites have focussed on soft targets like Essar Steel's iron ore plant in Dantewada district. The plant was attacked on Monday. Last week, they blasted power transmission towers that resulted in blackouts in several districts including Bastar, Bijapur and Dantewada.
The attacks came within days of Home Minister Shivraj Patil seeking to allay fears in the minds of industrialists about investing in Naxal-affected areas, saying steps were being taken to deal with the problem.
State security officials said they had anticipated attacks on soft targets in the northern belt of the Bastar region due to the thin presence of security personnel. A large part of security forces are deployed towards the southern parts for offensive operations. The state hardly has the manpower to protect assets such as power lines passing through dense forests.