The CRPF is so ill-prepared to fight Maoists, it is a miracle its troops are not deserting en masse
For 15 days, since November 15, more than 2,000 troops from six battalions of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) had been venturing out to conduct SADO — Search and Destroy Operation(s) — in Chhattisgarh’s Sukma district. The troops, roughly divided into ten groups, would traverse villages that are considered Maoist strongholds: Polampalli, Kankerlanka, Puswada, Jaggawaram, Korapad, Kanrajgubbal, Rangaiguda, Degalmetta, Ramaram, Pidmel, and Chintagufa.
Since they had no intelligence inputs, the troops were asked to engage Maoists if they ever came in contact. There is a very little possibility of such chance encounters unless the Maoists themselves want to engage the CRPF. In their strongholds, the Maoists have no dearth of human intelligence through their sympathisers. In fact, several arrested Maoists have revealed to the security agencies how their squads had passed less than 100 metres away from CRPF troops without being detected.
The CRPF has, in the last few months, tried desperately to win over the local population in these areas through civic action programmes. Their men distribute items like transistors, cycles, and saris among the people. But in Maoist strongholds such as in Sukma, many adivasis do not accept them. On Independence Day this year, some of these items were handed over forcibly to adivasis in several villages. But, according to a CRPF officer, many of them threw away these items at the periphery of the village and ran away.