Sukma attack: Are Maoists in Bastar raising a full-fledged 'red army'? Their 'looted' armoury says so

Are the Left Wing Extremists (LWEs) in the Red Corridor of Maoist-infested Bastar trying to raise a sort of a full-fledged army? A re-visit of the ambush and its aftermath on Monday indicates a strong possibility that the Maoists are strengthening their armed cadre and transforming themselves into an army.

 Sukma attack: Are Maoists in Bastar raising a full-fledged red army? Their looted armoury says so

A CRPF man showing the attack site in Sukma, Chattisgarh. Image courtesy: Debobrat Ghose

The Maoist ambush at Burkapal in the Sukma district of Chhattisgarh on Monday afternoon not only ended 25 lives but has also strengthened the Maoist cadre further, as they have enriched their armoury by looting sophisticated weapons, ammunition and gadgets from the 74 battalion of the Central Reserver Police Force (CRPF).

According to sources in CRPF and Chhattisgarh police, the Maoists operating in Bastar now have 15 to 16 Under Barrel Grenade Launcher (UBGL) in their possession, which has given more teeth to the armed cadre of the Left ultras.

“Earlier, the Maoist cadre had procured nine to ten UBGL by looting jawans who got killed in an encounter. Now, it has increased to 15-16. Their collection of mortar shells has also doubled. As per an estimate, they have more than 120 shells. It makes the cadre lethal now as one shell has the capability to kill 20 to 25 people. The military battalion of Maoists are using these weapons against security forces,” a source said.

How much did the Maoist gain from the Sukma attack

After launching a surprise attack on the CRPF’s road opening party (ROP), which was followed by a fierce gun-battle between security forces and the LWE cadre, the Maoists looted sophisticated weapons from CRPF personnel who were either killed or lying severely injured.

According to sources from ground zero, this time the Maoists snatched away weapons from some of the jawans during the combat as well.

As per the latest information till now besides ammunition and gadgets, 22 weapons have been reportedly looted by Maoists. Here is the list of weapons, ammunition and gadgets that were looted during the Sukma attack:

AK-47 (with five fitted with UBGL) 12
Insas LMG 2
Insas Rifle 3
Wireless set with spare batteries 5
Binoculars 2
Bullet-proof jacket 22
Deep Search Metal Detector 1
AK-47 magazines 59
AKM magazines 16
Insas LMG magazines 16
Insas rifle magazines 15
AK-47 and AKM ammunition 2820
Insas bullets 600
Under Barrel Grenade Launcher (UBGL) shells 62

Is loot of arms a move towards making of an army?

According to sources, this is for the first time that the Maoists have looted bullet-proof jackets. The latest ambush was planned by Hidma, the commander of the military battalion of the Maoists, and sophisticated weapons were used to launch the attack.

An unexploded hand grenade at the attack site in Sukma, Chattisgarh. Image courtesy: Debobrat Ghose

An unexploded hand grenade at the attack site in Sukma, Chattisgarh. Image courtesy: Debobrat Ghose

The loss of weapons by the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF), which also includes the CRPF, has in every encounter strengthened the Left Wing Extremists across the Red Corridor.

Defence analyst Brigadier (retd) Narender Kumar told Firstpost, “If the CAFP continue to lose weapons and equipment at this rate, the Maoists will have its own mini red army. It’s a dangerous trend and needs to be arrested. CoBRA battalions of the CRPF must be tasked with the combat support from regular CRPF to retrieve the lost weapons. No nation can afford its weapons being looted by gangs, thugs and terrorists."

Kumar added that the only way to counter such brazen display of savagery by Maoists is to hit back hard with proper planning and simultaneous actions at multi fronts. "Counter-insurgency operations cannot be planned from cities by remote control. Men must be trained, led and oriented to undertake high impact operations,” he said.

Updated Date: Apr 25, 2017 23:17:27 IST