New Delhi: Maoist menace is rearing its ugly ahead again in Odisha and the newly created state of Telangana after lying low for some time with the overall situation in LWE-affected states remaining "fluid", the chief of the lead anti-Naxal operations force Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) has said.
CRPF Director General Prakash Mishra said while the focus of anti-Naxal operations continues to be the worst Maoist violence-hit states of Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand, areas around the Andhra Pradesh-Odisha Border (AOB) and those within Odisha "need more attention."
The ex-Odisha DGP said while Naxal activity in the state had by-and-large cleared up, it is now "coming back" in the Narayanpatna area of Koraput district which borders Andhra.
"There could be many reasons (for this) — non-application of Standard Operating Procedures or lax policing. The inherent danger is always there...even in Telangana and some places in Andhra Pradesh," the CRPF chief told PTI.
CRPF is drawing up a map for re-deploying its forces in Odisha with Mishra himself undertaking a number of operational visits to the state. "As of now, I would say the situation is fluid but if the drive (operations and development together) continues as it is at the present, then I think, it (Naxal violence) is going to take a turn for the better only. There shouldn't be any let down (in operations and development works) in affected areas," he said when asked to give his assessment of the Left Wing Extremism situation in the country.
Mishra, who retires this month-end after heading the country's largest paramilitary for over an year, said this at a time when Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh is himself on a tour of these areas in Andhra Pradesh and Odisha.
The Union Home Ministry has recently sanctioned 1,000 more Border Security Force personnel to Andhra Pradesh for these tasks. The DG said security forces have made a good "dent" and hit at the strength of Maoist cadres in various states, demolishing the belief that they were "invincible".
"But, you cannot wish away the problem (Naxal violence) till the area under their control is taken back totally. We have to create a development hub in these areas so that after security forces conduct an operation, the gap is filled up by ushering in development works in such areas.
"The idea is that Maoists do not get space to organise themselves back," he said.
Mishra said Naxal violence has been "going down" over the last year but he warned that these incidents have a "cyclic pattern" and they can come back after a brief lull.
"While no one knows the future, about one-and-a-half or two years of sustained action can bring in the required results," he said. During his tenure, new operation policies were brought in which resulted in an all-time low casualty figure of CRPF personnel.
While 52 CRPF men were killed in anti-Naxal operations in 2014, only five were martyred in these operations in 2015. The force, which leads anti-LWE operations across the country, also killed 40 Naxals in the year gone by.
The last big casualty for the paramilitary in the Naxal operations grid occured in December 2014 when fourteen of its troops were killed in an ambush in Chhattisgarh.
Mishra said after taking over he had made his stand clear to the field commanders that operations should be conducted keeping in mind their effectiveness.
"Right from the day I had joined, I had been taking a stand that your (CRPF men) exhibitionism in the jungle should end. The moment you come out, it should be with a purpose.
"Now we go with a purpose and agenda in mind and you take your own tactical moves and you come back," Mishra said, adding the force was initially criticised that it was not undertaking enough operations but the results have proven them wrong.
He said earlier the elite jungle warfare unit of the force called CoBRA (Commando Battalion for Resolute Action) was "mixing up" with regular battalions for such tasks but after he took over he made it a norm that CoBRA commandos go for "independent and deep penetration" operations with the regular units acting as support elements.
The regular CRPF units, he said, were also asked to go out independently for specific intelligence-based operations. The CRPF chief said a lot of stress is being laid on training and now even small force units are being strengthened as part of widened training infrastructure so that men in operations keep doing their smaller drills quite often.
While acknowledging that key Maoist leaders are still at large, Mishra said security forces had been continuously hitting the Naxal cadres due to which the recruitment in their ranks has gone down and a stage will come when the seniors will have no "executors" on the ground.