Union Home Minister Amit Shah has asked for a renewed push to eliminate Naxalism from the country. Expressing dissatisfaction with the pace of the anti-Maoist operations in the country, Shah in a review meeting held last month asked for a “a strict audit to find out what, why and where the problem is."
Officials told News18 that the Home Minister demanded answers about which forces — the central ones like COBRA or those under state — were not performing the task of eliminating the Maoist strongholds and why.
On the condition of anonymity, a CRPF official told News18 that a target has been set to eliminate the Maoist strongholds in Bihar, Jharkhand and Maharashtra by the summer of next year. A similar claim was made by CPI Maoist South sub Zonal Bureau as well.
Soon after the Shah’s review meeting, CPI Maoist, South sub Zonal Bureau, Bastar issued a statement on November 2 and claimed that an operation called Prahar-3 was being planned in Chhattisgarh too with the timeline of November 2020 to June 2021. “Janta aandolan dabane ke liye bade paimane per police walon ko tainat karke yuddh abhiyan chalane ka faisla kiya hai. Ye abhiyan naye tarike ka salwa judum jaisa hai," the statement read. It added, “Modi and Bhupesh Baghel government, as part of a military campaign, have sent thousands of central para-military forces. Crores are being spent to acquire helicopters, weapons and ammunition."
K Vijay Kumar, advisor, Naxal, to Amit Shah refused to confirm the name of the operation or the timeline but he did tell News 18 that the Home Minister has asked states and central forces to work in better coordination with immediate effect to eliminate the weak spots in the anti-Naxal strategy. “The Home Minister took a review to help out the states. Who is not performing, which state isn’t doing enough, how states can be helped further … all of this was discussed," he said.
The review meeting by Home minister was attended by central para military forces, central IB and state government officials of five states— Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Odisha.
Officials said Chhattisgarh remains number one on the list of states where there was an agreement that top focus must be given. K Vijay Kumar left for Sukma soon after the review meeting in Delhi and met top state and central police officials to review the situation in Bastar. “In Chhattisgarh Naxals are trying to use local elements to bolster the Jan Militia. Intelligence agencies have suggested counter strategies, “Vijay Kumar told news18 on his return.
Redeployment of forces is one of the strategies that the government is implementing. The officials said state police have been asked to take over areas which are less sensitive so that the CRPF and other para military personnel can be redeployed in interiors where Jan Militia is trying to gain more ground.
CPI Maoist called this, “a coordinated operation between state police, CAPFs and intelligence agencies providing corporate security through new camps, new roads and bridges, and improving various communication channels, patrolling operations, information based operation."
Jharkhand was identified in the review meeting as the second most problematic state after Chhattisgarh. Though officials said things were improving.
In Bihar, the districts of Jammui, Aurangabad and Gaya have been zeroed in as districts where anti-Naxal operations should be focused. Odisha came in for praise for successfully implementing the Andhra model of focused intelligence gathering and operations. In Maharashtra, the multiple borders that Maoist affected Gadchiroli shares were flagged off as problem areas. “Gadchiroli shares borders with four states and has mad (abujmad) as its border with Chhattisgarh. This complicates the situation,” K Vijay Kumar told News18.
Other than the operations, Home Minister asked for special focus to improve coordination between state police and central forces. The BSF in Malkangiri, Odisha and Shastra Seema Bal in Jharkhand and Bihar and CRPF, ITBP, BSF in Chhattisgarh.