ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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State Demons in Forests of Bastar

Is the deliberate targeting of the support base of the Maoists good counter-insurgency policy?

The counter-insurgency operations to wipe out the Maoists have gone hi-tech – unmanned aerial vehicles are now being deployed for, among other things, “remote sensing” of “left-wing extremists”. On 28 June, a couple of hours after the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and its elite Commando Battalion for Resolute Action (CoBRA) troops aided by Chhattisgarh state police began returning to their camps, CRPF officials in New Delhi began to dish out ­details of the “biggest encounter”, the “big victory of the secu­rity forces in Chhattisgarh” in which they killed “19 Maoists”. But in Raipur, the state capital, the Chhattisgarh police had its own version of the specific intelligence input, the episode and the singling out of the dead, and the two did not match.

The CRPF version traced the 17 deaths (two more in a separate incident nearby) to prolonged exchange of fire with the dreaded Maoists in which six of its commandos sustained injuries. ­Union Home Minister P Chidambaram duly parroted the same, of course, commending the forces for their courage and their skills, and claiming that three important Maoist leaders were among the dead. But his own local Congress Party unit had a different tale to tell – according to its version, the official story of the encounter of the security forces with the Maoists was cooked up; it was a “fake” encounter, and the victims were “innocent adivasis”. Going by the local Congress version then, the security forces, whose job it was to prevent unlawful activities on the part of the Maoists, had themselves engaged in activities that render them culpable under Section 302 (murder) of the Indian Penal Code and under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, besides being accused of the sexual molestation of women and the destruction and looting of properties.

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