Naxals kills 5 in Chhattisgarh: Under new leadership, insurgents chalk out aggressive new strategy in war against State

In spite of high security arrangements involving drones and sophisticated trackers and the deployment of a large number of police and Central paramilitary forces personnel in Bastar just four days ahead of the first phase of Chhattisgarh Assembly polls, the Maoists succeeded in blowing up a vehicle at Dantewada on Thursday that killed one CISF personnel and four civilians.

 Naxals kills 5 in Chhattisgarh: Under new leadership, insurgents chalk out aggressive new strategy in war against State

The mangled remains of a CISF minibus after an IED blast, allegedly triggered by the Maoist rebels, in Bacheli area of Dantewad, Chhattisgarh, on Thursday. PTI

The message is clear. The Maoists are hell bent in executing their warning -- to force people boycott elections in Chhattisgarh. And to achieve their goal, they seem willing to go to any extent.

Besides giving poll boycott calls, the Naxals warned locals to stay away from accompanying police and security forces or face dire consequences. In one of their threats, they cautioned that they would detonate public vehicles if shared by cops.

This is the most dangerous takeaway from Thursday’s attack that should make the government intelligence network sit up and take note. The ultras are matching the police and security forces step for step in strengthening their intelligence system.

Every attack whether the recent one in Bijapur or Aranpur or at Bacheli in Dantewada on Thursday are indicative of their intelligence gathering dexterity.

“Maoists have a strong local intelligence network. It’s almost impossible to identify a Maoist, as he/she gets easily mixed up with local tribal villagers. Every movement of security forces is being closely monitored by them and they wait for the opportune moment to strike. A mesh of landmines and IEDs across Bastar comes handy, which they trigger with precision at their will,” counter-terrorism analyst Anil Kamboj told Firstpost.

Pre-election Maoist violence on the rise

This is not the first pre-election incident in Dantewada or entire Bastar, comprising seven Naxal-infested districts. Besides issuing warnings to tribal villagers to boycott polls, the Maoists in the last one month blew up a mine protected vehicle (MPV) in Bijapur that killed four CRPF personnel and had laid an ambush at Aranpur in Dantewada that killed three -- a Doordarshan cameraman and two policemen. Both the incidents took place in October.

Thursday’s attack on a bus is not the first incident of its kind in Bastar. Way back in May 2010, the Maoists blew up a public bus carrying villagers at Chingawaram, which is now in Sukma district, as there were a few special police officers (SPOs) on board. Chhattisgarh Police employs tribal youth as SPOs to counter Maoists in Bastar. In that IED attack, 44 passengers including SPOs had got killed. After that incident, CPI (Maoist) had expressed regret at killing civilians.

But after eight years, Thursday’s incident proves that Maoists are determined to kill anyone whosoever comes in their way or fails to follow their diktat.

One may recall, a week ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Jangla in Bijapur in April this year, the Maoists had blown up a bus carrying security force personnel in Bijapur amid tight security. Two jawans were killed in that incident.

Though the government and police claimed to have pushed Left Wing Extremists (LWEs) in the Maoist-hotbed Bastar on the backfoot, a series of gruesome attacks over the past one year speaks otherwise.

Chhattisgarh Police has been claiming a decline in Naxal incidents and more number of surrenders of Maoists, but the deliberate targetted attacks point towards an aggressive posturing and change in tactics.

New leadership, new aggression

It has become clearer with the elevation of Nambala Keshava Rao alias Basavaraj – the second in command in the CPI (Maoist), to the top post replacing general secretary Muppala Laxmana Rao alias Ganapathy — that the ultra-Left insurgents would be more aggressive and ruthless now than before. Almost every attack had been carried out with surgical precision, causing maximum damage to lives and property.

Basavaraj (63), who’s known for strong military skills and expertise in the use of explosives – whether landmines or improvised explosive devices (IEDs) – has been heading the Central Military Commission of CPI (Maoist) for quite some time.

Both the security force personnel and LWE experts believe that in comparison to Ganapathy, who was more inclined towards ideology, Basavaraj’s leadership would infuse strong military tactics on the ground, as he’s at the helm of military planning, operations and execution.

“Nambala Keshav Rao’s USP has been his strong military tactics in the form of guerrilla warfare and use of new forms of IEDs. His engineering qualification provides him with an edge and use of weaponry. Over the past one year, we’ve witnessed more aggressive and well-planned attacks by using IEDs in different forms,” an intelligence agency source dealing with LWE told Firstpost, on condition of anonymity.

According to sources, with the shrinking of Maoist base across the Red Corridor, Basavaraj’s immediate objective is to strengthen the military wing of CPI (Maoist) that’s People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army (PLGA) and thereafter expand its base through a large recruitment drive in the Maoist cadre.

Due to his technical background and his long-standing experience of heading PLGA, Basavaraj is expected to bring more aggression and change in tactics in the Maoist war against the state of India.

Basavaraj’s aggressive military tactics are not limited to Chhattisgarh alone; even the killing of a Telugu Desam Party legislator K Saraveshwar Rao at Araku in Andhra Pradesh is attributed to Basavaraj.

After all, Maoists are determined to establish ‘a state within a state’ -- ‘Janatana Sarkar’ (People’s council) in the Dandakarnya area, which according to the LWEs could be executed as prescribed by Mao Zedong, “political power grows out of the barrel of a gun” and not through plebiscite.

Updated Date: Nov 09, 2018 11:01:25 IST