Sources in the Central Reserve Police Force suspect that Thursday's attack on Congressman Avdesh Singh Gautam's house in Chhattisgarh's Dantewada district, in which his brother-in-law and clerk were killed, could have been part of a larger Maoist operation to overrun the CRPF camp in nearby Kuakonda.
It is assumed that the second attempt on Mr. Gautam's life was prompted by his proximity to Congress leader Mahendra Karma, who launched the anti-Maoist Salwa Judum campaign in 2005.
When Mr. Gautam's house came under attack that also injured his 12-year-old son and a police guard, another group of rebels fired at the police station at Kuakonda that also houses a CRPF company.
While it was initially believed that the attack on the camp was to occupy the police for the duration of the attack on Mr. Gautam's house, CRPF sources now feel that the assassination attempt could have been meant to draw out police and CRPF personnel and overrun their camp.
“The huge number of fighters and the duration of the encounter suggest that the [police] camp itself may have been a target,” the sources said. “The Maoists fired more than 900 rounds of ammunition in an engagement that lasted an hour and a half.” The Maoists fired three high explosive bombs at the camp. “Luckily the bombs fell about 10 metres short,” they said. “Otherwise, we could have sustained heavy casualties.”
The same night, a CRPF camp at Edka in Narayanpur district also came under heavy fire. The attacks came amid the 48-hour Bharat Bandh called by the CPI (Maoist) to condemn the killing of their central party spokesperson Azad in Adilabad district of Andhra Pradesh on July 2.
In a telephone interview on July 6, CPI (Maoist) South Bastar Regional Committee secretary Ravula Srinivas, alias Ramana, told The Hindu that Azad was killed in a fake encounter, and the Maoists would step up attacks from July 7 to 14.