Analysis, International Press

Counter-Offensive Amidst Losses in Chhattisgarh – Analysis

ChhattisgarhmapBy Fakir Mohan Pradhan*

Continuing the momentum after the December 1, 2014, Kasalpar [Sukma] attack on Security Forces (SFs), in which 14 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel, including two officers, were killed, Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) cadres killed at least seven civilians in six incidents, and 10 SF personnel in nine incidents, while losing just three cadres in two incidents, as of February 25, 2015, in Chhattisgarh. Interestingly, there has not been a single major incident [resulting in a total of three or more casualties] in this period, indicating that the Maoists are going about their business steadily, without drawing much attention to themselves. On January 1, 2015, Maoists killed a top surrendered Maoist, Korsa Jagaram aka Shivaji, in Kottapal village, Bijapur District. Shivaji, a native of Silger in Sukma, was a member of the West Bastar Division Committee of the CPI-Maoist and carried a reward of INR 900,000 before his surrender. He was recruited as a Gopniya Sainik (secret informer) by the Bijapur Police after his surrender.
Due to his involvement in several prominent attacks on the security forces and proximity to top Maoists, he was a major intelligence source for the Police. “His death is a major loss for us,” an unnamed officer conceded. Further, in what appeared to be a planted intelligence trap, the Maoists ambushed a joint party of the District Police and Border Security Force (BSF) near the Bande area of Kanker District on February 2, 2015, killing Bande Station House Officer (SHO) Avinash Sharma and Gopniya Sainik (secret agent) Sonu Ram Gawde, while injuring another six SF personnel — three each from the Police and BSF. While all the personnel were on motorcycles, at least Sharma and Gawde were in formals rather than fatigues, indicating that they were not expecting an armed engagement at all. The incident assumed significance as Kanker had not reported the death of any SF personnel in Maoist attacks through 2014.
According to partial data compiled by South Asia Terrorism Portal, Chhattisgarh regained the dubious distinction of recording the highest fatalities in LWE-related violence in India in 2014, with a total of 113 killed, including 25 civilians 55 SF personnel and 33 Maoists. In 2013, 128 fatalities had been recorded in the State, including 48 civilians 45 SF personnel and 35 Maoists. The trends indicate a decrease in civilian and an increase in SF fatalities, with Maoist casualties decreasing only marginally in 2014, as against 2013. Data released by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (UMHA) confirms, to be uploaded in SATP] these trends, recording 146 total fatalities, including 52 civilians 59 SF personnel and 35 Maoists, in 2014; in comparison to 149 fatalities, including 67 civilians 44 SF personnel and 38 Maoists, in 2013.
Significantly, the number of SF personnel killed in Chhattisgarh is disproportionately high, in comparison to other Maoist-affected States. According to SATP data, in 2014 Chhattisgarh alone accounted for 55 SF fatalities, out of a total of 87 in all States. In 2013, Chhattisgarh accounted for a much lower 45 out of 111 SF fatalities in all States, with Jharkhand and Bihar accounting for 26 and 25 fatalities, respectively. The SF to Maoist fatality ratio is also exceptionally adverse and worsening, at 1.7:1 in 2014, as against 1.29:1 in 2013. It is clear that Chhattisgarh remains the nerve centre of Maoist movement and functions as the locus of their ‘tactical counter offensive’ campaigns. District-level fatalities data further indicates that almost all fatalities in Chhattisgarh have been restricted to the Bastar Division – comprising Sukma, Bijapur, Dantewada, Bastar, Kondagaon, Narayanpur and Kanker Districts. The only exception is Rajnandgaon District (two fatalities), which shares its border with Gadchiroli in Maharashtra.


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