Vibhash Kumar Jha
Raipur. When the Maoists attacked on security personnel in March last year on 20 March 2020, in which 17 jawans lost their lives, it was a huge surprise for one and all, as the attack was executed during the initial lockdown phase, albeit the first lockdown began from March 21.
The summer season usually happens to be the most aggressive time for the extremists. However due to the alarming spread of Covid-19 in March it was behind that the Maoists will also compelled to remain dormant, as they too had a fear of becoming the victim of this unknown pandemic.
While talking to DISPATCH NEWS in an exclusive interview, senior IPS officer and special DGP in Chhattisgarh RK Vij, explains the Maoists activities with a different eye. He explains that the Sukma attack was a well-planned ambush, with one sub-group of central police forces, engaged in searching operation was drawn into the Maoist kill zone by sporadic fire, and as the security personnel moved in, they were picked off by armed insurgents, who were already occupying the high ground to trap the jawans. In fact, such attacks keep on taking place in the Maoist hotbed of Bastar in the TCOC period, which is not new. Still it was surprising only because of the Covid-19 phase. The security personnel may have had a litle lull, as they might not have thought that even during Covid-19 the left wing extremists would execute such a deadly ambush.
Vij, who was in-charge of anti-naxal operation in Chhattisgarh for several years, says the March ambush was an apparent reminder that the Maoist movement was not going to be over in the near future. When there are no attacks, the police and security personnel feel that the Left Wing Extremists (LWE) outfits are either strengthening their roots or spreading their cadres, with more recruitment and training. The recent reports that the Maoists are making their presence in Kabirdham and adjoining areas, vindicate this fact, he elaborates.
When asked as to whether the Maoists’ Movement has slowed down during the Covid-19 phase in the entire country and particularly in Chhattisgarh also, the senior IPS officer admits, there is no denying that the insurgency has weakened to quite extent, during the last TEN years or so. Territory-wise the Maoists are understood to have lost their control in a large area, where the security forces are having their camps now.
Describing the Covid-19 phase as a major setback to the LWE guerrillas, the Senior IPS officer also explains that this pandemic has forced them to postpone their Tactical Counter Offensive Campaign (TCOC), wherein the Maoists guerrillas tend to execute bold attacks on security forces prior to the onset of the monsoon. In this regard, the pandemic had given ample time to the security forces to spruce up themselves. The spread of the pandemic and the subsequent lock-down has also caused damage to their regular supply line, Vij says in the same breath.
Yet, this lull cannot be taken for granted, as the Maoists purposefully keep themselves away from attack and ambush. This interval is utilized to strengthen their cadre base, training along with accumulation of arms and ammunition. During the lock-down phase the Maoists were believed to have worked in their traditional strongholds as well as newer areas like Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh(MMC) zone.
On the changing dynamics of Maoist insurgency, RK Vij says, some sections of the society, especially the younger generation, have romantic illusions about the Maoists, arising out of an incomplete understanding of their ideology. The central theme of Maoist ideology is violence. The Maoist insurgency doctrine usually glorifies violence as the primary means to overwhelm the existing socio-economic and political structures. The Peoples Liberation Guerrilla Army (PLGA), the armed wing of CPI (Maoist), had been created with this very purpose. However with changing time this doctrine has also undergone a complete metamorphosis, and now the large number of youth are leaving the guerrilla outfit. Besides the developmental works in various basic sectors like health, education, employment and infrastructure has also played a vital role in bringing back the extremists to the main stream in a large number. The operation like “Lon Varratu” in local dialect (which means “Return to Home”) has also inspired many local tribal youth to leave the Maoists’ Dalams and and Sangham Dals.
Vij hopes that over a period of time the new generation would automatically have their own priorities and the consistent developmental works in the affected areas are certainly going to improve the state of affairs. This will apparently affect the Maoist movement also. Simultaneously the growing employment opportunities and building credibility in the affected area, is also going to change the scenario positively, he envisages with his eyes lit up with confidence and hope.