Maoists preponed tactical counter-offensive campaign in Chhattisgarh
The officials believe that rebels have also managed to recruit new cadres in Sukma, Bijapur, Dantewada, and Narayanpur districts.Updated: Jul 07, 2020 11:51 IST
The outlawed Communist Party of India (Maoist) has made a key strategic change and advanced its annual tactical counter-offensive campaign (TCOC), where rebels carry out maximum attacks against security forces, to two phases this year – January to March and April to June – officials said.
Usually, TCOC was be carried out between March and June, allowing rebels easier move in dense jungles of Central India during peak summer.
However, an alarming trend has come to light amid the raging coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic, where ultras managed to freshly recruit 50 cadres in eastern Bastar, a Maoists’ letter seized by the security forces revealed, said a police official posted in the region.
The officials believe that rebels have also managed to recruit new cadres in Sukma, Bijapur, Dantewada, and Narayanpur districts.
The seized letter is written by Maoist leader of Maad division of Dandakaranya Special Zonal Committee, Sukhlal, and addressed to the banned party’s leader Nagesh, who goes by his first name.
The letter stated that TCOC would start in January this year, as a marked departure in a bid to take security forces by surprise.
Sukhlal claimed that half a dozen ambushes and attacks were carried out in the Maad division in Narayanpur district and also fresh recruitment of 50 cadres since TCOC had started in January.
TCOC is an arm of the Maoists, which reports to the party’s Central Military Commission (CMC), whose chief is responsible for making an annual strategy for the counter-offensive operations against security forces that are aimed at destablising the government by an aggressive armed rebellion.
A fresh recruitment drive for cadres is also carried out during this period. Typically, the new recruits are deployed in areas, where the rebels are planning fresh strikes against security forces.
“TCOC helps Maoists to regroup and startle security forces with a pulverising attack out of the blue. Though the campaign had started in January, the Minpa attack on March 23 was its culmination, when 17 jawans were killed in a daring attack in Sukma district. This is for the first time that TCOC has been advanced to January and held in two phases,” said the official quoted above.
Data showed that 26 security personnel were killed and bodies of 20 rebels were recovered in Chhattisgarh between January 1 and June 30.
Most of the strikes were carried out in the Left Wing Extremist (LWE)-hit areas such as the tribal-dominated Bastar division and districts that come under the newly formed Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, and Chhattisgarh (MMC) region.
In 2019 and 2018, 12 security jawans and another 35 lost their lives in anti-Naxal operations, respectively.
“The Minpa attack, where 17 jawans were killed on March 23, is the worst-attack on security forces over the past two years. Altogether, 21 jawans were killed between January and March,” said an Indian Police Service (IPS) official posted in Chhattisgarh.
The official expressed concern about the fresh recruitment drive in eastern Bastar.
“This is a worrying trend. Over 300 cadres have been recruited in the Bastar division between March and June, despite the pandemic. The Maoists’ toll of 20 between January and June is the lowest in the 10 years,” he said.
DM Awasthi, director-general of police (DGP), Chhattisgarh, said, “The pattern for conducting TCOC has been constantly changing over the past few years. In the last couple of years, TCOC was held for four months after June and ended in December. It was started in January this year, as they have become more flexible. However, we were prepared because we had prior information of an early start.”
Shubhranshu Chaudhary, a British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) journalist-turned-peace activist in Maoist-infested areas in central India, weighed in on the TCOC’s early start in January
“If TCOC had started in January, it also suggests an ‘over militarisation’ in the party’s ranks since the new leadership assumed charge. Now, the party is filled with people, who are adept at Guerrilla warfare since Nambala Keshav Rao, alias Basavaraju, took charge as the new general secretary. There has been a sea-change in their combat strategies,” he said.