Claiming responsibility for Sukma attack, Maoists say none of its cadre died in the gun battle.
Police had claimed they killed 20 Maoists. The outlawed Communist Party of India (Maoist) on Monday took the responsibility of the attack on the Special Task Force (STF) in Sukma district of South Chhattisgarh on April 11, which resulted in the killing of seven STF men and left 10 others grievously injured. In a press statement issued by its South Bastar Divisional Committee, the banned outfit also refuted Chhattisgarh police’s claims that 20 Maoists were killed in the encounter.
“The STF wanted to mount an attack on our PLGA (People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army) on April 11 in Pidmed village of Sukma, however, exactly opposite happened on the ground. Our guerrillas killed seven STF men and chased away the rest of them,” said the press release. “Not a single Maoist was killed in Pidmed encounter. Some of us received minor injuries, but everyone is battle ready now. Senior police officers are claiming that they killed 20 Maoists in Pidmed but the fact is that the STF men had to run for their lives for more than 10 kilometres towards Kankerlanka village,” claimed the Maoists. R.K.Vij, the Additional Director General (ADG) of police in charge of the STF, had termed the Pidmed encounter “among the greatest battles” his men ever fought and claimed that around 20 Maoists were killed by the STF. Calling the police claims as “false propaganda”, the Maoists said that the “daring” attack on the STF has discouraged the policemen posted in Bastar.
“The police propaganda is only to lift their men’s moral which is at all-time low after the Pidmed attack. We never shy away from accepting casualties on our part. The last rites of our deceased comrades are performed as per the revolutionary traditions and in full public view,” informed the banned outfit adding that every PLGA martyr is provided “revolutionary funeral.” The Maoist press statement appealed to the police jawans fighting in Bastar to “stop attacking poor public” and “surrender before the revolution rather than being in the fear of death.” In another press statement issued by Sukhdev Konde, the secretary of the North Bastar Divisional Committee of the CPI (Maoist), the Maoists termed the attack on the BSF camp on April 12 in Chhote Betiya village of Kanker district as an “audacious attack”.
“The attack on BSF camp in Chhote Betiya was in response to the government’s plan to put up a carpet of camps across Bastar. Sixteen new camps have come up in Bastar in last six months. But the main aim of this plan is to snatch water, land and forests from the Tribals,” said Mr.Konde while admitting that Maoist leader Dasmen Salam alias Vikas was killed in the attack, which also resulted in the death of a BSF head constable.
Maoists: Chhattisgarh: TCO Escalates
There has been an abrupt spike in Maoist violence in the Bastar Division of Chhattisgarh, with 14 Security Force (SF) personnel killed, and 17 vehicles set on fire, by cadres of the Communist Party of India – Maoist (CPI-Maoist) between April 11 and 15, 2015. On April 11, seven personnel of the Special Task Force (STF) of Chhattisgarh Police, including Platoon Commander Shankar Rao, were killed and 11 others were injured when Maoists ambushed an STF team of 49 personnel in the forests near Pidmal village under the Polampalli Police Station in Sukma District.
Barely, 24 hours had passed, when the Maoists set afire at least 17 vehicles engaged in mining work at the Barbaspur iron ore mining site under the limits of the Korar Police Station in Kanker District on April 12. Striking on the same day, the Maoists attacked a Border Security Force (BSF) contingent that was patrolling the Chhote Baithiya BSF Camp under the Bande Police Station area, in Kanker District, late in the night of April 12, killing a trooper. Later, the body of one Maoist, killed in the return of fire, was recovered. On April 13, five Chhattisgarh Armed Force (CAF) personnel were killed and another seven were injured, when Maoists blew up a mine protected vehicle (MPV) near Khudiyapara village on Kirandul-Cholnar Road in Dantewada District.
On April 15, the body of Bira Basant, a District Force (DF) trooper who was abducted by Maoists on April 7, was found on the Gangaloor-Bijapur Road with Maoist pamphlets strewn around. On April 10, in an incident that did not received much attention, armed Maoists numbering around 30 to 40, set ablaze an under-construction Police Station in the Mudhia Mohara village in the Dongargarh area of Rajnandgaon District. The spate of violence has again brought the focus on the Maoists and their surviving strengths and capabilities.
According to the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP)database, in all theatres of Left Wing Extremist (LWE) violence across States, there were 314 fatalities, including 128 civilians, 87 Security Forces (SFs) personnel and 99 CPI-Maoist cadres, in LWE-related incidents in 2014. This was less than a third of such fatalities in the peak year, 2010, when at 1,180 fatalities were recorded. Maoist violence has come down to zero fatalities in West Bengal, from a peak of 425 killed in 2010; and has declined sharply in other States, including Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Odisha, Maharashtra and Bihar.
The situation in Jharkhand has also seen major reverses for the Maoists. Significantly, the Bastar Division of Chhattisgarh alone accounted for 55 out of 87 SF fatalities across the States in 2014; as against 45 out of 111 in 2013. The deteriorating trend seems to be continuing, with the Bastar Division accounts for 24 of 30 SF fatalities across all States, in 2015, as of April 19. That Bastar Division has, consequently, emerged as the nucleus of the Maoist Tactical Counter-offensive (TCO).
In the current year, as of April 19, Chhattisgarh has recorded 37 fatalities in LWE-related violence – including nine civilians, 24 SF personnel and four Maoists. All these fatalities have occurred in Bastar Division. Beyond the crude data, among the latest incidents, two are significant because they buck the trend and in view of their potential ramifications. Firstly, unlike most of the past major incidents where the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) were principally targeted, it was the Chhattisgarh Police that has now suffered major casualties. In the Pidmal ambush, an STF team of 49 personnel led by platoon commander Shankar Rao had gone for a swift operation, based on intelligence received by Rao.
The probably planted intelligence appears to have been extremely tempting, seducing Rao into launching the operation without due clearances and sufficient backup. The unit made a journey of 18 kilometres through the jungles in the dark of night, but was ambushed in the morning. The eventual encounter was spread over three kilometres and involved three gun battles. Shankar Rao was killed in the first round of fire. Two subsequent engagements killed three troopers each. However, the STF managed to withdraw, managing to keep the total casualties low and losing just two weapons. The pattern reflected the February 2, 2015, Kanker ambush, in which Bande Station House Officer (SHO) Avinash Sharma and Gopniya Sainik (secret agent) Sonu Ram Gawde were killed and another six SF personnel – three each from the Police and BSF – were injured, the team was led by Sharma, who received the apparently planted intelligence. Sharma was killed in the first hail of bullets from Maoists.