Nearly 7,000 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel are to be deployed in the inaccessible areas of Abujhmad in south Chhattisgarh to fill the “security vacuum” and plug the gaps through which Maoists escape when operations are launched, a senior government official said.
The Union Home Ministry has asked the States to continue the offensive against “urban activities of CPI (Maoists) and its front organisations”, according to a note accessed by The Hindu .
Last year, 10 persons, including human rights lawyer Sudha Bhardwaj, were arrested by the Maharashtra police for allegedly being associated with Maoists, a charge denied by them.
This year, 60 operations have been conducted, in which 34 Maoists and 17 security personnel were killed in Chhattisgarh, the worst-affected State. Since 2016, as many as 635 operations have been launched in the State, where 370 Maoists and 179 security personnel were killed.
The Abujhmad forests are not on the revenue map and the dense jungles are used by Maoists as their hideouts. It was here in February 2017 that the Central Committee, the top decision-making body of the Maoists, met and decided to pick a new leader, Basavaraju, replacing Muppala Lakshman Rao, alias Ganapathi.
Union Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba convened a meeting of the States affected by Left-wing extremism (LWE) last week where the redeployment of CRPF personnel and other issues were discussed. This was the first such review done after Amit Shah took charge as Home Minister in the second term of the Narendra Modi government. The extra personnel would be deployed in the interior of Bijapur and Sukma districts also. At present, around 44,000 Central forces are deployed in the State other than the State police.
The official said the Home Ministry had given the clearance to deploy the extra seven CRPF battalions (each battalion comprises around 1,000 personnel) last year. “They couldn’t be deployed last year and it has been decided to move them to Chhattisgarh on an immediate basis. Most were on election duty. As they set up camps in the interior pockets and increase their presence, it will be difficult for Maoists to escape using these routes,” he said.
The action by security forces at the Madhya Pradesh-Maharashra-Chhattisgarh trijunction, where Maoists were trying to raise a new armed group, was also discussed at the meeting.
In 2017, after security forces came to know of a new unit called the “Vistara platoon” that was trying to gain a foothold at the trijunction, extra personnel were rushed to the area. The Ministry has asked the States about the steps taken to reduce the number of casualties due to improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and measures to check the flow of funds to Maoist groups. Mr. Gauba asked the Maoist-affected States to have more inter-State operations and joint operations.
The meeting was attended by the Chief Secretaries and Directors-General of Police of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Bihar, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Telengana and Madhya Pradesh. Representatives of the CRPF, the BSF and the ITBP were also present.