Big crackdown against 'Maoist supporters' soon

Activists, intellectuals and journalists shout slogans against the arrest of human rights activists during a protest in New Delhi. AFP

A first-time concerted crackdown has been launched against ‘overground Maoist supporters' in various states and about 500 such people have been apprehended by the security forces in Chhattisgarh alone over the last one year, the chief of country’s lead anti-Naxal operations force, the CRPF, has said.

CRPF Director General R R Bhatnagar told PTI in an interview that this fresh action is being undertaken by them in coordination with state police forces with an aim to deny ‘space’ to the Left-wing extremists and to counter them beyond the field operations.

The Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) has deployed close to a lakh armed personnel and a heavy assortment of weapons and gadgets to tackle the Left-wing extremism in various states of the country.

“We are now going to the villages and we are trying to see that action is taken against their (Maoists) overground supporters and workers, ‘jan militia’ and other people who give them the intelligence and local support. 

“We are working with the local police and we are seeing that all the people who have been identified, either ‘jan militia’ or are wanted in different cases, they are rounded up (by the police). More than 500 people with the help of our forces have been taken into custody in the last one year in Chhattisgarh. We are trying to see that their (Naxal) overall support is also reduced,” the DG told the news agency.

A senior official heading a special combat unit in Chhattisgarh later informed that all those people who have been found to have helped the Naxalite cadres in planning, aiding and executing an attack on security forces are the ones who are on their radar primarily and such persons are being tracked and apprehended or arrested as part of this new strategy to counter the Left-wing extremist challenge.

Bhatnagar, a 1983-batch Indian Police Service officer of Uttar Pradesh cadre, said the paramilitary force is gradually increasing its footprint into the core Naxal areas and has opened at least 15 new camps in the highly impenetrable and inhospitable jungles and terrain of south Bastar in Chhattisgarh which shares borders with Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha and Telangana.

“If you were to look at figures this year, 160 Naxals have been neutralised in various states and the number of incidents (anti-Maoist operations) is maximum in Chhattisgarh followed by Jharkhand,” he said. The CRPF boss said he has taken some major policy decisions to better orient his combat units for success in operations without suffering major reverses.

“What we have also done is hardened our defences. We have also placed emphasis that it is not only the special forces like the CoBRA (specialised jungle warfare unit of CRPF) who have to be competent but also the GD (general duty) battalion troops who need to be properly trained as they are in the highest numbers by way of deployment and they are facing the maximum attrition,” Bhatnagar said.

The officer took charge of the force in April last year in the backdrop of two major ambushes in Chhattisgarh.

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Big crackdown against 'Maoist supporters' soon

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