The Maoists’ counter offensive strategy is bound to fail in the region, says a senior officer
After the April 3 attack on the security forces by the Maoists near Bijapur in Chhattisgarh, which left eight from the District Reserve Guard (DRG), seven from the CRPF’s CoBRA, six from the Special Task Force, and one from the ‘Bastariya’ battalion of the CRPF dead and over 31 injured, the security forces in the Andhra-Odisha Border (AOB) region have stepped up surveillance and combing operation on both sides of the border.
With the security forces in Chhattisgarh in hot pursuit of the attackers, the Left Wing extremists can either move deeper into the Abuj Madh area of Narayanpur-Dantewada-Bastar region or to Sukma.
The possibility of the Maoists moving towards Telangana or Maharashtra are less as the borders are well secured in both the States.
The chances of the attackers sneaking into the Malkangiri area of Odisha via Sukma and then moving further to the AOB region too are are minimal, says a senior officer in the Intelligence wing of the anti-Maoist operation.
Normally, after launching such a big attack, members of the group re-assemble at a place and then take different routes to reach their strongholds, he says.
In Chhattisgarh, the Maoist strongholds, or what they call “liberated zones,” are Bijapur, Narayanpur, Kanker, Dantewada, Sukma, Bastar, Kondagaon and Rajnandgaon.
‘Taking no chances’
“The chances of their movement towards the AOB region are less. But we never know. So, adequate measures are being taken,” says a senior police officer.
The presence of the Maoists in the AOB regions has dwindled over the years. Apart from the Pedabayalu Area Committee, their existence is negligible, he says. They are mainly dependent on militia members, as their cadre strength has dwindled in the last one decade.
It is learnt that most of their senior leaders such as Akkiraju Haragopal alias RK, Chalapathi, and Gajarla Ravi alias Uday, who is the secretary of the Andhra-Odish Border Special Zonal Committee (AOBSZC), are no longer in the AOB region and have moved to the Sukma or Dantewada regions. The operations in the region are left to Aruna and Kakuri Pandana alias Jagan.
But since the Maoists have declared a year-long Tactical Counter Offensive Campaign (TCOC), the security forces have also stepped up the counter measures.
After receiving a series of setbacks and with low new recruitments, the Maoists have planned the TCOC to show their presence and regain faith among the tribal people.
Normally, the annual TCOC is organised from January to June, when the summers is at its peak, as visibility is better due to lower green cover. During monsoon they go back to their dens.
Cadre strength dwindles
In the AOB region, TCOC is difficult at this juncture, as they are on the run and their cadre strength has depleted.
During TCOC, their tactics have been to feed wrong intelligence and, if the security forces fall for it, they run into an ambush, or IED attack.
“It has happened in the past, and we have learnt our lessons. We never follow the wrong lead. We strictly adhere to our SOP. And that is why the TCOC has been failing in this part of the region, and we are in a dominant position to push them back,” says a senior officer engaged in the anti-Maoist operation in the AOB region.