Maoist attack in Chhattisgarh is a sign of desperation: Security officials
According to an analysis by the National Bomb Data Centre, Maoists were responsible for most – 55 of 132 – IED attacks in the country in 2021.
The Dantewada attack was a sign of desperation among the Maoists, who have been pushed to the back foot after security forces opened 53 “forward bases” in their strongholds, officials familiar with the development said on Wednesday.
Filling the security and administrative vacuum in the Maoists’ core areas has worked, apart from the National Investigation Agency’s strategy of choking their funds, they said.
“There is clear desperation among Maoists. The forward bases opened in the hotbeds of Maoists in the last three years have not only helped in coordinated intelligence-based operations by security forces but have assisted civic authorities in taking development work to the remote villages. Also, their logistics chain like weapons, money and food items has been disrupted and the organisation is facing a leadership crisis. This is leading to waning of the Maoists’ influence in the villages,” said an officer, who asked not to be named.
There was no specific intelligence input about Wednesday’s attack in the Aranpur area of Dantewada, in which 10 district reserve guard (DRG) personnel and a driver of Chhattisgarh police were killed, but a general alert had been sounded that the Maoists usually launch their annual Tactical Counter Offensive Campaign (TCOC) around this time of the year, so the units should be careful.
Using Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) to target the security personnel, said an officer, instead of getting into direct combat has been the Maoists’ strategy lately to avoid losses and costs.
According to an analysis by the National Bomb Data Centre (NBDC) of the elite counterterrorism force National Security Guard (NSG), Maoists were responsible for most – 55 of 132 – IED attacks in the country in 2021. Similarly, the red ultras were involved in 49 IED attacks in 2020.
For security agencies, the biggest threat is still the Dandakaranya area, spread in the Bastar region of Chhattisgarh to the bordering areas of Maharashtra, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, from where Dandakaranya Special Zonal Committee or DKSZC operates. The Dantewada area, where the attack took place on Wednesday, also falls in this region.
A second officer said, “Maoists have crude weapon manufacturing units in the DKSZC area where single-barrel grenade launchers, double-barrel grenade launchers, rocket launchers and countrymade weapons are manufactured. But more concerning is that they run their own research and development wing for IEDs in this area, for which explosive material and detonators are procured from the coal mines and quarries”.
He said that more than 75% of central committee members, including CPI Maoists’ general secretary Nambala Keshava Rao alias Basavaraj and Hidma, commander of the the People’s Liberation Guerilla Army (PLGA), who plan major ambushes on security forces, operate in this region.
Former director general of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) K Durga Prasad said, “The idea of opening camps inside jungle areas is that development work of the government reaches the people and the quality of life in those areas gets better. They want to keep the villages in isolation and create terror by carrying out such attacks. They cannot match the security forces’ strength in regular combat, that’s why they indulge in shoot-and-scoot and these IED attacks”.