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Forces warn of more attacks as Naxal movement turns 50

LiveMint logoLiveMint 09-04-2017 Shaswati Das

New Delhi/Bastar: With 2017 marking the 50th anniversary of the Naxalite movement, security forces stationed in the so-called Red Corridor have sounded the alarm that recent attacks on security forces could signal the start of a resurgence of anti-state activity by the armed insurgents.

Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) officers warned that the 11 March attack which led to 12 CRPF personnel being killed in Sukma district’s Bhejji village in Chhattisgarh and an increased recovery of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) over the past two weeks are indicative of heightened Maoist activity under its the tactical counter offensive campaign (TCOC)—an organized movement against security forces.

In another incident, more than 30 extremists attacked the Doikallu railway station in Odisha’s Rayagada district on 30 March, protesting against Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the state.

Although security forces have been unable to pre-empt the attacks, they said “subtle warnings” should not be taken lightly. “The Naxals usually focus on small attacks. But this year, they are concentrating some large attacks. The frequency with which they have been planting IEDs has increased rapidly and we have been recovering landmines every two days from the region. This is a message from them to say that they are highly active, but their motive is unknown,” said a senior Border Security Force (BSF) offer stationed in Chhattisgarh, requesting anonymity.

Also read | Naxalbari: India’s greatest war with itself

While Naxalites are most active between the months of January and June , security forces say that with this year marking 50 years of the movement, the period from 15 March to June, or until the monsoon sets in, was likely to be the most volatile. “This is the period when there are maximum armed attacks by them. The most offensive operations are conducted by them during this period, and it is also the time when they task their military companies in target-based ops,” said Dinesh Pratap Upadhyay, deputy inspector general (operations), CRPF, Dantewada district, Chhattisgarh.

According to home ministry data, 1,840 left-wing extremists were arrested in 2016 and another 241 this year.

“A comparison of data of 2017 with the corresponding period of last year reflects a decline of 20% in number of violent incidents. The resultant deaths have also decreased by 6%. The overall situation in LWE-affected states including Jharkhand, Bihar and West Bengal is well under control and security threat to the country from LWE (left-wing extremism) is actually receding,” said a senior home ministry official, on the condition of anonymity.

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