INDIA'S FORGOTTEN WAR – blogging naxalism.

Upping the Ante

with 8 comments

As Operation Green Hunt continues, the Maoists continue to strike with relative impunity while sustaining minimal casualties.

Earlier this week the Naxalites blew up a commercial bus travelling in Dantewara, killing around 50 people. Traveling aboard the civilian carrier were around 20 so-called Special Police Officers (SPOs). These are local tribals empowered as temporary constables to combat the Maoists. While they are valued for their local knowledge, they have also been criticised for child soldiers, inadequate training and their use as little more than cannon fodder by the CRPF.

While the Maoists have engendered a great deal of )understandable) outrage from their killing of dozens of non-combatants, the use of civilian transport by paramilitary forces engaged in a counterinsurgency is negligent at best and criminal at worst. More to the point, it is indicative of the lax discipline and poor tactical planning on the part of the government.

A little over a day later the Maoists, this time in West Bengal, carried out another landmine attack that killed 4 CRPF personnel. Today, in Bihar (a state only moderately affected by the insurgency) derailed a train transporting fuel and then proceeded to torch the carriages.

The relentless attacks by the Maoists and myriad failures by state forces has revealed not only problem inherent in Green Hunt, but also the serious divisions in the government over how best to deal with the insurgency.

The government is undertaking a review of its policies with Chidambaram pushing for a greater mandate. He is echoing the demand made by some state ministers for the deployment of the IAF.  From the Indian Express:

Chidambaram said he would ask the Cabinet Committee on Security for a “larger mandate” — an apparent reference to approval of air support for ground operations — for the Home Ministry in dealing with Naxalites. “The security forces, the Chief Ministers want it (air support). The Chief Ministers of (West) Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Orissa have all asked for air support,” Chidambaram said, speaking on the day Naxalites blew up a bus in Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh, killing at least 35 people, mostly civilians.

While the Home Minister has claimed that the IAF would be used for transportation and surveillance, rather than aerial bombardment, it is not at all clear why the currently deployed helicopters from the BSF’s air wing are inadequate for the task.

Use of the air force would engage the Indian armed forces in a battle which they are neither trained nor structured for. The armed forces have been prepared and equipped for conventional warfare between neighbouring states, not for precision attacks within their own borders. It is not at all surprising that the leadership of the IAF is opposed to such involvement.

Up until now, Green Hunt is a failure. It is premised on an uncertain blend of massive manpower and the funneling of development assistance to the affected states. The government’s response has been incompetent and inconsistent. The Maoists, on the other hand, have used the opportunities created by the presence of so many additional security forces to lethal effect.

8 Responses

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  1. Do we know if the BSF helicopters are currently being used or how they are being used? I imagine the problem is one of coordination and planning, or are they reluctant to use them at all?


    May 22, 2010 at 4:50 am

  2. It’s hard to find specific and accurate information. I know that there have been contract helicopter pilots operating in Bastar for at least a year as I’ve been in touch with one of them. Their job is supply and surveillance. Reports suggest a number of BSF helicopters have been pressed into service on an ad hoc basis as required.

    Additionally, I have also read that 10 Mi-17 IAF helicopters are already being used for troop deployment. Their RoE is to only fire when fired upon. That being said, it is a lot of conflicting info and I should have been more cautious and meticulous in my post.



    May 22, 2010 at 2:18 pm

  3. if you are interested in other movements by the subalterns……

    Uddipan Mukherjee

    May 22, 2010 at 3:17 pm

  4. […] have denied responsibility. Even when they fuck up, they admit responsibility. For example, the destruction of a bus in Chhattisgarh which killed scores of civilians was caused by the CPI(Maoist). They admitted responsibility and […]

  5. The problem is just getting bigger with every new incident . They say its law and order problem and army can not be deployed within the country itself. But I am afraid that without help from army the situation will keep getting out of control.

    Rajender Singh

    May 1, 2012 at 1:21 pm

    • I think sending in the military would be a bad idea. They are trained to defend India’s borders, not fight insurgents. They are also a highly professional and respected institution that would be corrupted by a long dirty internal war against Indian citizens.


      May 8, 2012 at 4:24 pm

  6. Well they are not easy to deal with and especialy police can no more handle them. But our top leaders still say they can not have army operating inside the borders within the country.

    Rajender Singh

    May 1, 2012 at 1:56 pm

    • My understanding is that it is the army itself that is reluctant to become involved. And I can’t blame them. The Indian military is professional and they’re worried about the corrupting influences that COIN in Kashmir and the NE has had on them.


      May 8, 2012 at 4:22 pm

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