Saturday, November 28, 2009

New Year - AntiNaxal offensive

28 Nov 2009


By R Rajagopalan

NEW DELHI: The much touted anti-Naxalite offensive from any day by the central para military forces in coordination with the state governments ha been quietly put off to January.

And, that too will be limited to only two states of Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand. The strategy for simultaneous operations to isolate the Naxalites and Maoists at the five junctions of Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Orissa and Maharashtra will be possible only in March.

The Home Ministry officials as also a top officer of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) which is to be involved in the offensive say there are only two COBRA battalions of commandos for fanning out in the jungles to root out the Naxalites and hence the plan has been cut down to Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand for the time being.

Four more COBRA battalions of about 4500 commandos are undergoing training and as such the final assault begins only after they are available for taking on the left ultras, the officials said.

Raman Singh, the national coordinator for the anti-Naxalite offensive and special DG of CRPF, says the action now times in January in two states first and then in other affected states will be based on specific intelligence inputs to ensure the tribals living in the area do not come under crossfire or killed mistakenly.

The Home Ministry sources said the offensive had to be delayed because of the ongoing Assembly elections in Jharkhand tnat will be over only on December 18 and until then the state police forces were not available to join the central forces in launching the drive.

Home Minister P Chidambaram's strict instruction to the security forces going into the anti-Naxalite drive to ensure safety of the tribals and not create situation like Jammu and Kashmir where the locals were antagonised by the forces resulting in the distrust that hangs on for the past 15 years.

The government wants to win back the tribals misled by the Naxalites but their sympathies will be elsewhere if the offensive results in their killings, Chidambaram has stressed, pointing out that the Naxalites and Maoists already have a propaganda mill that will churn out stories of excesses of the forces that are lapped up by the pro-human right media.

"While you should be firm, decisive and unrelenting in dealing with those who indulge in violence, you should show a great degree of sensitivity, patience and maturity to the poor people, specially the tribals," Chidambaram told the CRPF at a function in Kadarpur in Haryana on the occasion of its 70th raising day.

His message to the CRPF forces was to reach out the tribals and the marginalised side by side with the offensive to remove them from the influence of the Naxalites as that alone will encourage them not to protect but hand over the ultras to make the drive successful.

He pointed out that the Naxalites and Maoists had succeeded in brainwashing the innocent tribals through their propaganda machinery that they are the saviours who can protect them against the government's excesses.



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