INDIA'S FORGOTTEN WAR – blogging naxalism.

Archive for the ‘Bihar’ Category

Upping the Ante

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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.

Indian Election Phase IV

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Polling in Phase IV of the Indian election was (largely) peaceful. Aside from some districts in Bihar, voting took place in areas largely devoid of Naxalite activity.

Written by Michael

May 7, 2009 at 11:30 am

Phase II

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Phase II of the election is less than 24 hours away. Reports are coming in of two Naxalite actions in the polling areas. A train has been highjacked by around a hundred guerillas in Jharkhand. Over 700 hundred people are being held hostage. A block development office has been blown up and a truck driver killed in a series of co-ordinated attacks in neighbouring Gaya and Aurangabad districts in Bihar.

I have a feeling that this is just the beginning of a bloody two days.

UPDATE:
Maoists have melted back into the jungle and released all of the hostages unharmed. Why? Well it seems there are two reasons:

A Maoist spokesman, Gopal, told the BBC: “This was a symbolic gesture, no intention to cause harm to passengers and anyway it is very hot here.”

Heh. Cheeky. Who knew that Maoists were could be so sardonic caustic (note to self: verify meaning of big words that I use to sound clever).