Within a month of the Sukma attack in which Maoists killed 25 CRPF troopers, the paramilitary force claimed big success in its anti-Maoist operations — with 105 left-wing rebels caught and 25 surrendering — thanks to better intelligence gathering in a new “aggressive” strategy. A Home Ministry document accessed by IANS revealed that the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) achieved the success between April 24 and May 23, which is the highest month-wise figure so far this year. The force also seized over Rs 20.35 lakh cash, 39 weapons, 4,628 ammunition, 302 explosives, four grenades, 91 bombs and 29 Improvised Explosive Devices from the rebels. Three gelatine sticks, 5,133 detonators and 60 kg narcotics were also recovered.
According to the document, three Maoists surrendered and 41 were apprehended in over 100 special operations conducted in Chhattisgarh, as part of its “new strategy”. The most surrenders were reported from Jharkhand (15) and Odisha (7), while the maximum number of Maoists apprehended were in Bihar (45), followed by Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand (12) and Telangana (7), it said.
In the nearly four months this year before the April 24 Sukma attack, only 28 Maoists had surrendered while 516 were apprehended from 10 Maoist-hit states of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha, Bihar, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.
Over 300 armed Maoists attacked a 99-member unit of the 74 CRPF Battalion providing security cover to road construction workers in Sukma district in south Chhattisgarh’s Bastar region, killing 25 personnel and leaving six others injured. CRPF’s new Director General R.R. Bhatnagar, explaining the reasons for the force’s success in anti-Maoist operations, told IANS: “All round efforts are being taken. We have had much better cooperation with the state police constantly. That’s why we have been achieving success.”
Asked if the CRPF’s new strategy was the reason behind the achievement, he said: “It’s not happened because of strategic changes, but due to concentrating on issues like better intelligence and coordination with the state police, constant aggressive posturing and better use of technology.” Of the 25 Maoists apprehended, 15 were were involved in the Sukma attack, he said.
Bhatnagar said the CRPF is now focusing on conducting joint intelligence-based operations after the Sukma attack. “Our personnel are carrying out intensified operations every day, despite the harsh summers and sweltering heat,” he added. In the one month since the Sukma attack, 10 CRPF personnel were injured during the course of 74 anti-Maoist operations, an attack on two CRPF camps, a mine blast and 12 direct confrontations with the rebels.
The CRPF also lost 28 weapons and 3,420 ammunition in 82 incidents in the one month, it added. As per the document, the highest number of Maoist surrenders — 2,166 — was reported in 2016, while 1,635 rebels were apprehended. In 2015, the surrender figure was 940 — less than half the number — but the number apprehended was 1,608. In 2014, a total of 940 Maoists surrendered and 1,546 were caught. In 2013 the figure of surrendered Maoists was low at just 81, while the number of rebels caught stood at 1,596. In 2012, 983 Maoists surrendered while 1,766 were held — the highest figure so far.