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Chhattisgarh cops change tack, kill ‘record’ 133 Maoists in 2016

A “record” total of 133 Maoists have been killed in Chhattisgarh so far this year, while 41 security personnel have been slain during operations, according to police data.

india Updated: Dec 17, 2016 18:05 IST
Ritesh Mishra
Ritesh Mishra
Raipur, Hindustan Times
A security personnel stands near the body of one of the victims of Maoist attack in a densely forested area in Bastar, about 345 kilometers (215 miles) south of Raipur, Chhattisgarh. (AP File Photo)

Chhattisgarh police claim their increased use of technology and change in strategy to counter left-wing extremism have Maoists in the state on the run. A “record” total of 133 Maoists have been killed in Chhattisgarh so far this year, while 41 security personnel have been slain during operations, according to police data.

The 2016 body count of Maoists is the highest in a year since the formation of Chhattisgarh in 2000, according to police records. In 2015, a total of 47 Maoists were killed, while 47 security personnel were slain.

Police claim their “success” is rooted in “intelligence-based operations” and a more “aggressive” approach, primarily in Bastar region. Maoists lord over large tracts of Bastar, which accounts for most of the bloodshed in left-wing extremism in the state.

“Earlier, Maoists were working on an offensive strategy, now they have been forced to concentrate on defence,” said a senior police officer involved in anti-Maoist operations in Chhattisgarh.

“Their strategy was to attack police teams, ambush convoys and attack police stations, but in the last one year they are continuously moving along the banks of some small rivers and trying to protect themselves from security forces,” added the officer, declining to be named because he is not authorised to speak to the media. The officer, however, cautioned security forces were yet to reach many areas in Bastar.

Till 2015, security forces largely concentrated on targeting Maoists inside the jungles, using long-range patrols and securing their own bases. This year, patrolling was stopped and forces move only on the basis of concrete intelligence inputs.

DM Awasthi, special director general (Naxal) of Chhattisgarh, confirmed this tactical switch. “We have changed our strategy this year. More than half a dozen teams of 400 to 700 security personnel are sent to different parts of the jungles in Bastar and a surprise raid is done after technological coordination. This has rattled them (Maoists).”

Incidentally, the post of the special DG (Naxal) was created this year. The special DG (Naxal) was also given the charge of intelligence wing, which existed separately, to aid quicker operations.

Police are now monitoring the quality of intelligence daily, and at times, on an hourly basis. “Technology helped us contain the casualties among security forces,” said an officer of Chhattisgarh intelligence wing.

BOX: Conflict 2016

Bloodshed, arrests and surrender

Encounters: 202

Maoists killed: 133

Civilians killed: 55

Security personnel killed: 41

Maoists surrendered: 1,202

Maoists arrested: 881

Explosives recovered

Landmines: 94

Tiffin bombs: 101

Pressure cooker bombs: 9

Pressure IEDs: 43

Pipe bombs: 30

Detonators: 2,160

Grenades: 25

Weapons recovered

AK -47: 1

INSAS rifles: 5

SLRs: 4

*All figures till Dec 15

First Published: Dec 17, 2016 18:05 IST