A serious setback this

A serious setback this

Police personnel pay tribute to fallen soldier Ranjit Kumar Yadav during his  cremation on the outskirts of Allahabad on April 8, 2010.

The lethality and brutality of the ambush should clear doubts which have been entertained by many in the country in regard to the intentions of the Maoists whose objectives have never been a secret. They have repeatedly and openly proclaimed their goal of replacing the constitutionally established Government in India, with the dictatorship of the proletariat to establish their own version of a Leninist-Maoist Communist State.

The semi-colonial, feudal, comprador bureaucratic imperialist Government in India, they assert, can only be removed with the use of force through a protracted people’s war. Despite these clear pronouncements and the many and increasing number of violent incidents indulged in by the Maoists, the government failed to prepare a concerted and comprehensive plan to act against them and stop their unlawful activities.

The Maoists have utilised the freedom to work unimpeded to extend their influence, establish underground and over-ground networks as also to considerably expand the strength of their armed cadres. For this gross failure of the government to enforce the law, the nation has been paying and will continue to pay a very heavy price.

The Central and State governments have no doubt been reviewing their strategy and tactics constantly but it is apparent that serious shortcomings exist. A full-scale guerilla war is now on our hands covering a very large part of our country. The first requirement therefore is to build up the capabilities of the forces deployed against the guerillas. The CRPF has been designated as the nodal force by the Center.

The CRPF since its inception has been largely trained to handle riots and civil unrest and guard vital installations. Though armed with rifles and other weapons they also carry lathis and tear smoke material. Their training orientation is to use the minimum force required to bring a civil riot situation under control. They are required to operate along with the local police and the civil administration. To be effective against the Maoists the combatants must not only be given the basic training of an infantry soldier but also receive intensive training in field craft and jungle warfare. Leadership, physical fitness, age profile are other major factors.

Unlike the soldiers in the Army, the retirement age in the Central paramilitary forces and the State police is 60 years. Thus more than 45 % of any unit is likely to be over 45 years of age. Presently the forces are very thin on the ground and the required back up to send reinforcements immediately to a unit caught in an ambush has not been possible. In the many attacks carried out by the Maoists it has been seen time and time again that hot pursuit has not been carried out. Only fully combat ready forces under leaders who have the experience to lead the men in battle can prove effective. Units in the field have to have their own independent intelligence gathering capabilities as operational intelligence can be collected by them alone.

Better arms, equipment, gadgetry should not be a problem. The lines of authority, command and control, coordinated action are other areas of importance and significance. Fragmented action, sporadic response has to be replaced by an all encompassing strategy covering all the areas which is under the sway of the Maoists. There can be no doubt any longer, that the country is faced with a protracted war and there is no alternative but to prepare for the battles ahead. No scope is left for dissembling, quibbling or half-hearted action. The Indian people and the Indian State must work as one to annihilate the Maoists who threaten our hard won freedom.

(The writer is former director of Intelligence Bureau)

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