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Thursday, Oct 17, 2019

Gadchiroli attack signals Maoists may be regrouping

This MMC corridor covers jungles in the three states and is a source of a new worry for the security forces, who believe the Maoists are building it to escape a crackdown in Bastar.

india Updated: May 02, 2019 09:17 IST
Ritesh Mishra
Ritesh Mishra
Hindustan Times, Raipur
Mangled remains of a police vehicle, carrying 16 security personnel that was allegedly blasted by Maoists using IED, in Gadchiroli, Wednesday
Mangled remains of a police vehicle, carrying 16 security personnel that was allegedly blasted by Maoists using IED, in Gadchiroli, Wednesday (PTI )
         

The improvised explosive device (IED) blast in Maharashtra’s North Gadchiroli that killed 15 security personnel and a driver on Wednesday is likely to be the handiwork of Maoist cadres from neighbouring Chhattisgarh’s South Bastar region, according to police and intelligence officers.

The attack scene – Dadapur Road – borders Dandakaranya and the Maoists’ Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh (MMC) zone, they added.

“It is a well-planned attack in which company number four of North Gadchiroli… Maoists played a major role. We have information that some hardcore [Maoist] cadres from South Bastar were also in this part [Gadchiroli] for the last few days,” said an intelligence officer posted in this zone. He added more details about the attack will come after a couple of days.

Watch | At least 16 jawans killed in IED blast by Maoists in Maharashtra’s Gadchiroli

 

This MMC corridor covers jungles in the three states and is a source of a new worry for the security forces, who believe the Maoists are building it to escape a crackdown in Bastar.

The Dandakarayana zone is spread across the borders of Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra and Odisha. The Maoists call it a free zone. They have divided Dandakaranya into nine divisions, each comprising three to five area committees. Every area committee is composed of several local organisational squads and local guerrilla squads, the intelligence officials said.

The Wednesday attack scene – North Gadchiroli – covers one of the nine divisions of the Maoists in Dandakaranya, they added.

“We have issued a red alert in Chhattisgarh and meetings of senior officers are going on in the bordering districts. I believe that due to pressure from security forces in Bastar, most of the Maoist cadres are moving towards MMC and Gadchiroli. There are possibilities that Maoists from Chhattisgarh were also involved in the attack,” said Chhattisgarh police chief D M Awasthi.

Awasthi added that recent interrogations of senior Maoists, who have surrendered, suggest activities of the rebels in Gondia and Gadchiroli in Maharashtra have increased. He called it a matter of concern for both the states as it borders Rajnandgaon in Chhattisgarh.

Another Chhattisgarh-based intelligence officer, who has been closely watching developments in Maharashtra, said younger leaders of Maoists from South Bastar and Gadhchiroli areas have regrouped over the last few months and they could be behind the attack. “Usually in this TCOC [tactical counter offensive campaign] period Maoists coordinate and unite to attack the security forces. In this attack, a trap was laid by setting ablaze the vehicles in that area which increased the movement of security forces. The cadres of two or three divisions could be behind the attack,” said the intelligence officer.

In February 2017, police recovered a Maoist letter in Bastar, which suggested that increasing pressure from security forces in the region was forcing Maoists to shift to the MMC.

Comrade Somru had written the letter to another Maoist rebel, comrade Surendra. “Oppression is rising. The enemies are opening camps. Villagers are fleeing from the area and we are working in difficult conditions,” the letter said, which has been accessed by HT.

An officer posted in Rajnandgaon district said there are about 200 armed cadres roaming in the MMC region. “And the chances of attacks in MMC have increased after Gadchiroli attack because they are more confident now.”

An Indian Police Service officer posted in South Bastar said there has been a change in Maoist strategy after Nambala Keshav Rao, alias Basavaraju, became the new general secretary of the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist) in November 2018.

“The Maoists have changed their strategy after Rao took charge. They are focusing on IEDs and not engaging themselves in gunfights. Since last year, every major attack was carried out using IEDs because they are safe and we have no strategy to contain them. The only way to stop IED blasts is to follow the rules of the road in the jungle, which was not followed in Gadchiroli’s case.”

Raipur-based journalist Alok Putul said some parts of Gadchiroli and MMC zone are becoming a safe haven for Maoists of Bastar. “The government of all three states [Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh] should jointly work to contain the Maoists movement. The attacks clearly reflect intelligence failure of all the three states.”

First Published: May 02, 2019 08:04 IST

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