Thursday 23 March 2017 News Updated at 04:03 PM IST
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Maoist attack bares CRPF vulnerabilities - Deccan Herald
Maoist attack bares CRPF vulnerabilities
March 20, 2017
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Maoists have struck again in Bastar's Sukma district. An attack on a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) road opening patrol left 12 of its personnel dead and four others injured. In terms of casualties, this is the deadliest Maoist attack in two years. Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh has described the attack as an "act out of frustration" stemming from the "unprecedented success" that security forces have had in their military operations against the Maoists. While security forces have indeed made significant gains against the Maoists in recent years - as the home minister pointed out the number of 'incidents' in Chhattisgarh dropped from 466 in 2015 to 395 in 2016 - the Maoists are hardly on their last legs. Their attacks do not signal desperation. The recent attack at Sukma was meticulously planned and implemented and based on solid intelligence. After ambushing the CRPF patrol, the rebels set off improvised explosive devices and targeted the jawans with arrows tipped with explosives. They also made away with a fair amount of rifles, light machine guns, grenade launchers and wireless sets. The Maoists suffered no casualties. If anything, the recent attack at Sukma signals the Maoists' continuing capacity to carry out major attacks.

Probes into attacks on the CRPF have repeatedly revealed lapses on part of its personnel. Often, they do not follow standard operating procedures leaving them vulnerable to landmines and ambushes. In the recent attack, the road operating patrol was moving on foot and not using a mine protected vehicle (MPVs). In 2010, the Centre had sanctioned procurement of 350 MPVs for the CRPF but even after seven years, the force is making do with just 122. According to media reports, most of the MPVs have been shifted to Jammu and Kashmir and the CRPF deployed in Bastar is having to patrol roads in Maoist strongholds on foot. Condemning the Maoists for their brutality against the CRPF isn't enough. The callous attitude of authorities to the lives of our security forces is just as reprehensible and deserves stern action. The CRPF personnel should be provided with the equipment they need. The ambush at Sukma would not have claimed lives if they had been in an MPV.

The attack at Sukma also reveals the CRPF's poor intelligence input on Maoist activity and presence. It is evident that public support for the state remains weak in Bastar. Fear of Maoist retribution is likely to be inhibiting the villagers from providing the security forces with information. Further, local alienation from the state remains high. After all, the civilian face of state authority is hardly visible in the district. That needs to be rectified.

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