Chhattisgarh plans assault to 'finish off' Maoists

10,000 highly militarised Maoist fighters are in Chhattisgarh who have access to rocket launchers and mortars

Police officers say the operation, which will be launched by early November, will focus on dismantling the terror infrastructure of the Maoists in the state's southern tip known as the Bastar region spread out over a 40,000 sq km area. Police describe this region as India's "nerve-centre of Maoist militancy" that first erupted in 1967 in West Bengal.

"Maoists have crossed all limits, now the time has come to finish them off," Girdhari Nayak, state's additional director general of police, told IANS. Police officials say about 40,000 policemen drawn from the state police and paramilitary troopers are presently posted in Bastar. Police added they were waiting for some more elite forces to join them by the end of this month to launch the assault in forested areas.
 
In mid-September, over 500 policemen led by Commando Battalion for Resolute Action (Cobra), an elite force raised by the Indian government purely for anti-Maoist operations, stormed into rebel hideouts in Chhattisgarh and killed at least two dozen insurgents but also lost six of their men.
 
Police say top leaders of the banned Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) are hiding in Chhattisgarh jungles from where they are commanding Maoist militancy in several states.  "We estimate 10,000 highly militarised Maoist fighters are in Chhattisgarh who have access to rocket launchers and mortars. We plan to hit them in their decades-old areas, with a quick plan to address livelihood problems of the local population and erase sympathy among them for Maoist ultras," a counter-terrorism expert, on the condition of anonymity, told IANS.

Chhattisgarh's plans come amid a spate of Maoist attacks in the country. On Thursday,  Maoist guerrillas ambushed a police patrol and gunned down at least 17 policemen in a jungle stretch of Maharashtra's Gadchiroli district. On Tuesday, the decapitated body of Jharkhand police inspector Francis Induwar was found on the highway, six days after he had been abducted by Maoists.

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