The Maoists are Fighting Their Last Battle in This Area. Earlier Their Stronghold Used to be 100km x 100km. Now it is 40km x 40km
The recent incident bears a similarity to the one that happened last year. In both, the Maoists were carrying out the Tactical Counter Offensive Campaign when the security forces mounted the operation. What went wrong?
There was no intelligence failure because the forces in this case went on an intelligence input which was being received from the previous seven to 10 days. We knew that the Maoist Madvi Hidma along with his battalion and a company from the Central Regional Command (CRC) were there in the area adjoining his home village of Puvarti. We also knew that in another place called Jonaguda, Maoists were present in large numbers.
Based on these inputs, the forces launched an assault. The forces started for Jonaguda from CRPF’s Tarrem post on the night of April 3 and reached there early morning on April 4. They combed nearly 1.5 km of the surrounding area but they did not find anything there. Not even tale tell signs of the Maoists even being there. Thereafter, they started their journey back, but from a different route. On the way back, the Maoists had laid an ambush at a place called Teklagudam. We had no intelligence about the ambush at Teklagudam. The Maoists had taken over the hillocks and other geographical obstructions. They had mounted a Light Machine Gun (LMG). They also used country-made weapons. They started firing in huge numbers; and then started closing in on the troops. After the forces were hit, they too started firing back. The fierce firefight continued for about four-and-a-half hours. Both sides were hit.
Our troops managed to break through the ambush, and brought back the mortal remains of two of our own soldiers along with one of theirs. Even when it was not possible to carry other fallen soldiers’ bodies, they managed to pick their arms and bring them along too. We had a total of 31 injured men. The fact that our forces managed all of this and actually broke the ambush is an act of bravery.
Some reports say that this operation was being planned for a few weeks, and senior officers, including some with prior experience in Bastar, had come to Chhattisgarh to oversee it. What was the objective of the operation and how much of it was achieved?
We had intelligence inputs coming in at least seven to 10 days prior regarding the presence of the Maoists in the said area. But the operation was planned only a day before. Nobody from the higher ranks went to oversee the operation. Higher officials of the CRPF and Chhattisgarh Police in Raipur cleared the operation. It was conveyed to the ground forces. As we already had the intelligence, ground forces and their commanders planned the operation, sent it to Raipur for final approval. Higher officials evaluated the plan and its execution, depending on the planning done and the intelligence information. This is a routine during every operation.
The feasibility of operations is discussed and further planning is done even in terms of the eventualities that may occur. In case of evacuation, what kind of preparations should be made for helicopters to land. During the planning, we also decide what kinds of equipment and medications must be carried by the forces. The planning is done in terms of the overall operation. In case there is to be an eventuality in the course of the operation, what kind of measures would be taken and how would the ground forces be provided with reinforcements is overseen by the senior authorities. After all this is taken into account, a go-ahead is given. Even this time all of this was followed.
There is a point of view that if junior leadership of the CRPF is empowered and have the autonomy of planning and execution, of course in consultation with the senior leadership, they can perform better because they understand their theatre better. What is your view on this?
Intelligence is passed on to the ground forces. The ground commanders plan the operations. Then they send it to us. In this case, senior officers in charge in Raipur. The plan is prepared on the ground as they have to carry it out. Nobody from the higher ranks passes on the orders. They find out the way as to how and where they must reach and the number of people they want to take along. Both forces, local police and CRPF send it to Raipur and then they take the decision. These officers decide at which spot helicopters can be made readily available in case of medical evacuations; or in case communication fails, in what manner will it be established again.
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