The banned Communist Party of India (Maoist) has declared its opposition to the establishment of an Army training centre in Chhattisgarh's troubled Narayanpur district, and described the move as a first step towards the eventual deployment of the Indian Army in anti-Maoist operations.
In fall 2010, the Indian Army established a sub-area command in Chhattisgarh and unveiled plans to set up a jungle warfare training college, a school for special forces and para-commandos, and a massive (between 600 and 900 sq km) training area in Narayanpur. Narayanpur is one of Chhattisgarh's most sensitive districts and borders the 4000 sq km Abujmard area, a dense un-surveyed forest claimed by the guerrilla forces of the CPI (Maoist).
By acquiring land to establish a training facility on the edge of Maoist-controlled Abujmard, the Army had triggered speculation of a full-scale deployment in the future.
The Army has categorically stated that it shall not participate in anti-Maoist operations at present, and that all its facilities in the State are for training purposes only, but the Maoists appear unconvinced.
In a press release, dated January 22, 2011, Maoist spokesperson Guda Usendi said that the Union government was preparing to use the Army to wage war on its own people. The Maoists said that the deployment of the Army would result in the imposition of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in Chhattisgarh and lead to a "civil war" in central India.
However, in a press conference on January 14 this year, Chief of Army Staff, General V.K. Singh said that the Army was "neither operating in the area nor seeking protection under the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act."
The Maoists questioned the right of the government to hand over tribal land to the Army and called upon people's organisations and civil society to oppose the force’s presence in Chhattisgarh, but stopped short of stating if the Maoists would attack Army installations. In December last year, the Army revealed that it had written to the Home Ministry to seek clarifications on the rules of engagement and the right of retaliation in the event that their forces are attacked by the Maoists.
The close proximity of the training facility and rebel bases has lead to fears that a Maoist attack on soldiers could draw the Army into the protracted insurgency.
Last year, the Maoists killed over 100 troopers of the State and central paramilitary forces in Chhattisgarh alone, including 27 soldiers of the Central Reserve Police Force in Narayanpur district, not far from the proposed Army training centre.