News Brief

Last Nail In The Coffin Of Naxalism: BSF, ITBP Troops To Be Relocated To Chhattisgarh To Escalate Anti-Maoists Operations

Nishtha Anushree

Dec 31, 2023, 02:24 PM | Updated 02:24 PM IST

A BSF Jawan (Representative Image)
A BSF Jawan (Representative Image)

In a strategic move to escalate anti-Maoist operations in their final strongholds, official sources have revealed that over 3,000 personnel from three battalions of the Border Security Force (BSF) will be relocated from Odisha to Chhattisgarh. Similarly, an equivalent number of Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) units will advance into Abujhmad, a known Naxal stronghold.

The recent announcement by Union Home Minister Amit Shah, declaring that India is "on the brink of" eradicating Left Wing Extremism (LWE), is part of a newly introduced operational plan.

On 1 December, while addressing the BSF troops on their 59th raising day in Hazaribag, Jharkhand, Shah stated that the final offensive against LWE is currently underway by forces such as the BSF, the CRPF, and the ITBP. He expressed a firm resolve to eradicate Naxalism from the country.

The forces referred to are known as Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs).

Insiders from the security establishment have informed PTI that the Border Security Force (BSF) has received orders to establish six new company operating bases (COBs) in the district of Narayanpur, Chhattisgarh. This will be achieved by initially relocating one of its battalions from Malkangiri, Odisha, which is located just across the inter-state border.

A battalion within the BSF comprises more than 1,000 members.

The Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), presently with roughly eight battalions stationed in the districts of Narayanpur, Rajnandgaon, and Kondagaon in Chhattisgarh, has been instructed to relocate one of its units deeper into the central region of Abujhmad, The New Indian Express reported.

The Narayanpur district encompasses a forest area of approximately 4,000 square kilometers, which is reputed to be a bastion for armed Naxal cadres.

In the untamed forests of Abhujmad, also known as 'madh', approximately 35,000 individuals, predominantly tribals, inhabit roughly 237 villages.

Currently, the region lacks a fixed central or state police station, and it's reported that armed Maoist cadres are active, undergoing training, and migrating in this area from the Chhattisgarh-Odisha border in the southern Bastar region of the state.

The Bastar area, which includes districts such as Dantewada, Sukma, Bijapur, Narayanpur, Kondagaon, and the northern Kanker district, represents the final stronghold and pathway where Maoists maintain some power. This area provides the potential for unexpected challenges against the security forces and the administration.

A senior officer stated that the security forces are establishing a new stronghold and infrastructure in this region with the aim of dismantling the Maoist network. Their objective is to secure the area sufficiently to enable the state government to commence developmental projects.

He stated that an additional two battalions each from BSF and ITBP will subsequently be relocated to enhance control along the Chhattisgarh-Odisha border in south Bastar.

Another security officer revealed that the Naxals are utilising the Bastar corridor in Chhattisgarh as a passageway to infiltrate into Odisha districts such as Malkangiri, Koraput, and Kandhmal. Consequently, the central forces have been assigned the responsibility of establishing more COBs, also known as forward operating bases, along the border of these two states.

The leadership of the Naxals in Chhattisgarh's Dandakaranya Special Zonal Committee comprises approximately 800-900 active cadres. However, the strength of the CPI (Maoist) in Odisha's Kandhamal-Kalahandi-Boudh-Nayagarh (KKBN) division is significantly lower, with only 242 active cadres, as stated by the second officer.

Among the 242, a mere 13 originate from Odisha, with the remaining majority of the Maoists' senior and middle-level leadership hailing from Chhattisgarh.

Therefore, he stated that the activities in Chhattisgarh will be ramped up as part of an initiative that might be given the code name 'Kagar' (edge). This decision will be discussed in a meeting with various agencies scheduled for January.

On the Border Security Force's commemoration day, Home Minister Shah highlighted that over the past decade, Naxal-related violence has reduced by 52 per cenr, fatalities from these incidents have dropped by 70 per cent, and the number of impacted districts has decreased from 96 to 45.

He had stated that the count of police stations affected by "LWE" has decreased significantly, dropping from 495 to 176.

Shah declared that the Modi administration was "close to" eradicating the LWE violence in several states.

He also tallied up the recent activities conducted by security forces in the 'Burapahar' and 'Chakarbandha' hills and forests of Jharkhand, liberating large regions from the grip of the Maoists.

Nishtha Anushree is Senior Sub-editor at Swarajya. She tweets at @nishthaanushree.

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