Sukma attack: Centre tells forces to target Naxal leaders, prepares a ‘hit list’
Two days after the horrifying Maoist ambush in Sukma that killed 25 CRPF personnel, the Centre has asked the security forces to focus counter-offensive operations on “highvalue targets”, including south Bastar divisional commander Raghu and commander of the first battalion of People's Liberation Guerrilla Army (PLGA) Hidma, who is said to be behind the latest attack.
Times of India, in its report, cited government sources saying that the CRPF and other forces have been asked to demoralise the Naxalites by targeting their leaders, area commanders and influential members of the ‘jan militia’.
They further added that there are about 200-250 leaders of different committees and area commanders of Naxalites in Bastar who keep travelling to Jharkhand, Odisha and Maharashtra for coordination as well as to plan attacks on security forces.
According to the report, there are around 4,000 armed Naxalite cadres in the Bastar belt, which are aided by around 10,000-12,000 ‘jan militia’.
“A large number of Naxalites have been arrested since last year, but senior leaders (of the insurgents) who plan ambushes on security forces have been eluding the forces for a long time. There is a need to arrest or eliminate them,” a government official was quoted by Times of India as saying.
Meanwhile, following the Monday’s ghastly attack, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday asked security forces on the ground to go on an “all-out offensive” against Maoists and “show results in the next few weeks”.
At a meeting of the central and Chattisgarh security brass in Raipur on Tuesday, Rajnath Singh directed the paramilitary forces to revive the counter-Naxal strategy and show results in the next two-and-a-half months.
“Identify the lapses and problem areas that are exposing the CRPF to repeated high-casualty attacks and redraw the counter-Naxal strategy to plug them. I want results on the ground in the next two to two-and-a-half months,” Rajnath said.
He also conveyed to the CRPF brass to resolve some "inherent" problems like weaponry, logistics and intelligence gathering mechanism to ensure lethality and better results by avoiding casualties in anti-Naxal operations.
On Wednesday, the government appointed senior IPS officer Rajiv Rai Bhatnagar as the new Director General (DG) of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and has attempted to galvanise its security apparatus by ordering a revamp of the intelligence gathering mechanism.
The absence of a full-fledged chief of the force had invited criticism after the Sukma attack which resulted in the death of 25 men.
The Centre also plans to procure advanced aerial surveillance equipment, including foliage penetration radar, to monitor the activities of Naxals, who operate in thick forests in Chhattisgarh and other states.
The Home Ministry officials said initial reports from the ground indicated that the nearly 100-member CRPF team that came under fierce attack in Chhattisgarh's Sukma did not follow the Standard Operating Procedure, which resulted in heavy casualties.