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Maoists eye expansion in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh; map new zone of operation

The Maoists, who have been largely active in Chhattisgarh's Bastar region, have reportedly been building an entirely new Red Zone along the western border of the state, according to The Indian Express.

In a 25-page document retrieved in April by the Chhattisgarh Police, the new Maoist corridor was said to cover the forest pockets in Balaghat district in Madhya Pradesh, Gondia district in Maharashtra and Rajnandgaon, Kabirdham and Mungeli districts of Chhattisgarh, the report.

However, it is not the first time Rajnandgaon has been linked with left-wing extremists (LWE). In 2009, the then Superintendent of Police Vinod Choubey was killed in a Maoist ambush along with 29 other policemen, according to this report by The Hindu.

Though there have been some reports of Maoist movement in Kabirdham, which incidentally is the home district of Chief Minister Raman Singh, there have been no reports of them operating in Mungeli.

The Maoists document described the new area as the MMC (Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh Confluence) zone. It shared that their idea is to create an entity like the Dandakaranya Special Zonal Committee in Bastar.

The MMC is the second Red Zone that the Maoists are building after their Bolangir-Bargarh-Mahasamund division.

Representational image. Getty images

Representational image. Getty images

The document, which reviews progress in the new zone, was drafted by 'MMC Leading team' in March 2017. It mentions location-specific issues like differential pricing of bamboo and even demonetisation, which the Maoist leadership is likely to take up.

The Maoist document calls for increased efforts for elevated “political awareness of the Naxal movement”, while cautioning its cadre to remain mobile and instead of staying in one place and attack security forces by laying ambush.

According to the same The Indian Express report, the Maoists have sent 58 senior and mid-level cadres to operationalise the MMC. There are also indications that the top Maoist leadership have visited the region to push the process.

Meanwhile, the security forces are also stepping up their game to match with the level of Maoist activity in the country.

Since the April ambush in Chattisgarh's Sukma, the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) has conducted about 200 special operations, apprehending 26 Maoists and seizing a huge cache of munitions.

"Post the Burkapal incident in Sukma, we have reworked our operational strategy in south Bastar and the focus is now to conduct joint intelligence-based operations," newly-appointed CRPF Director General RR Bhatnagar had told PTI in May.

All special operations post-Sukma were either led by the CRPF or its special jungle warfare guerrilla force, the Commando Battalion for Resolute Action (CoBRA), a dossier accessed by PTI said.

Efforts are also being taken to have the state police personnel form an essential part of the patrol party along with the CRPF, an official told PTI.

About 10 states in India are currently LWE-affected.

After the Sukma attack, the strategic anti-Naxal operations command headquarters of the CRPF has been shifted from Kolkata to Chhattisgarh's Raipur for effective operational coordination between multiple security forces.

The lead anti-Naxal operations force is also deploying a fresh squad of about 2,000 CoBRA commandos in and around Sukma district.

Even in Odisha, where there is strong Maoist presence in the Malkangiri district, the BSF decided in April to introduce two bulletproof boats to patrol the Balimela reservoir.

The Maoists' hub is a cut-off area comprising about 150 villages, which is separated by the Balimela reservoir.

In 2016 alone, 39 Maoist ultras were neutralised while the red rebels killed 23 civilians and three security personnel a report of the home department standing committee told the Assembly in March.

According to the report, large number of villagers including militia supporters and sympathisers from Kalimela, Padia and Mathili areas of Malkangiri district had distanced themselves from the Maoists.

"This signals a progressive turn around in the LWE situation in the state. The government had been focusing on both security and developmental measures to effectively counter LWE menace," the report said adding that recruitment of cadres by CPM and its mass support base declined.

With inputs from PTI

Updated Date: Jun 13, 2017 21:02 PM

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