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Maoists staged attack to regain influence, earnings

What made Maoists go back to the attack mode in Bihar after eight years? It was definitely not an attempt to loot weapons — they took away only three guns from the fallen railway security personnel. Mammen Matthew reports. HT fast facts - Maoists in India | Cushy kingdom

patna Updated: Jun 15, 2013 09:09 IST
Mammen Matthew
Mammen Matthew
Hindustan Times
SK Bhardwaj,Naxal attacks,Maoists

What made Maoists go back to the attack mode in Bihar after eight years? It was definitely not an attempt to loot weapons — they took away only three guns from the fallen railway security personnel.

A close look at the state-versus-red war shows that there’s more to the attack on the Dhanbad-Patna Intercity Express in Jamui than what meets the eye. It was, in fact, a diversionary tactic by the rebels to regain their influence in the region.

SK Bhardwaj, additional director general of police, law and order, confirmed: "The train attack was to distract the security forces camping near the fortress-like Bhimbandh jungle in Jamui, a safe haven for the Maoists just 17 km away from the train attack site."

Jamui’s impregnable Bhimbandh area — the densest forest in Bihar leading through Jharkhand into Jangalmahal and Purulia regions of Bengal — has been a favourite haunt of the Maoists since the 1990s.

A day after the Jamui attack, HT received information that increased police pressure had slowly choked the Maoists’ escape routes and supply lines in the area. And the rebels’ grip over villages in the area was weakening.

Chiranjeev Prasad, deputy inspector general of the CRPF, said, "The forces’ area domination exercises have made it more difficult for the Maoists to connect with their comrades operating in Munger as two CoBRA contingents have been established in the Bhimbandh jungle area."

The land link between the Jamui area and Munger is important for the rebels, as they virtually rule over more than 300 sq km of the Munger diara lands — fertile landmass formed due to deposit of sand and silt over time in the riverine areas.

Another reason for the greater Jamui-Gaya-Kaimur belt becoming the Maoists’ most favoured area is it covers four state borders. While Jamui is near the Bihar-Jharkhand border, Gaya borders Jharkhand and Bihar’s Rohtas area and Kaimur has easy access to Chhattisgarh and Uttar Pradesh.

In fact, the Maoists are using the Vindhya Range, which sticks into Bihar like a knife and breaks into Munger and Jamui regions through Giridih in Jharkhand, as their operational base.

One of the most important reasons why the Maoists couldn’t allow the area to slip away is that it could mean less influence over the surrounding villages, which means fewer cadres on the ground and less levy from the people they are supposed to be fighting for.

So, they came back with blazing guns after eight years. The last Maoist strike in Bihar was in March 2005, when they tried to derail the Rajdhani Express on the Bihar-Jharkhand border in Aurangabad and followed it up with a strike on the Jehanabad jail, just 60 km south of Patna, freeing 398 prisoners and looting the entire armoury.

Since then, Maoist strikes have been scattered, intermittent and undefined — the focus being on extorting levies from road-builders in select districts. All this while, they carefully avoided frontal attacks on security encampments.

Another factor that initially surprised the experts is that 60% of the Jamui attackers were women. The reason is large-scale migration of labour, which led to fewer on-ground activists and potential squad members. So, they started recruiting women instead.

Senior CRPF officials believe the Maoists will intensify their activities in Bihar in the coming days, and the Jamui attack was just a trailer. They expect the rebels to trigger the next attacks along the five districts on the Indo-Nepal border, since they can use their access to the facing Nepalese districts dominated by the Communist Party of Nepal.

First Published: Jun 14, 2013 23:29 IST