In the first operation of its kind in a long time, the Chhattisgarh state police, the Special Task Force and the Central Reserve Police Force launched a combined offensive against Naxalites in the forests spanning two highly Naxal-infested districts to register their first major success in many months.
"At least eight Naxalites were killed in the gun battle. We have recovered six bodies till now," Dantewada Superintendent of Police Amrendra Mishra told rediff.com on Tuesday.
The operation, which started three days ago, saw security forces cover 600 square kilometers of the inhospitable forest area bordering Dantewada and Bijapur. "Not less than 1000 troopscomprising of men from the police forces of Dantewada and Bijapur, the STF and the CRPF, were involved. The two sides were engaged in gun battles in eight places," Mishra said.
Police sources said that the operation is significant for two reasons. "First, this is the area from which they [Naxalites] were targeting industries in the region like Essar and National Mineral Development Corporation. Second, not only is this the first success in a long time, it is also the first instance where the CRPF and the state police have been able to act in tandem to register a major success," said a senior intelligence official, who did not want to be named.
The operation was conceived and planned at the level of inspector-general between the state police and CRPF, a police spokesperson said. "The IG of Bastar, the SPs of the two districts and the CRPF commandant planned the operation together. The forces were out combing the area for three days and ended the operation at 10 pm on Monday," Inspector General R K Viz said.
"The dense forests were a difficult terrain, accessible only by foot. Along with the bodies of the Naxalites, we also recovered 3 guns, a .315 rifle, tiffin box bombs, a hand grenade and some literature," he added.
Though this was the first recent major military success in a while, the police themselves are the first to agree that the results were not along expected lines. "The operation was huge, no doubt about it. And indeed we dominated. But to be frank, I wouldn't say the results were as huge. 1000 men, 600 square kilometers we should have gotten more. Perhaps it was sheer bad luck," Mishra said.
Lack of coordination between the CRPF and the state police was said to be one of the reasons why the security forces were on the back foot for the past few months. "But with this, let us hope that the trend reverses. This has proved that when we coordinate properly, the results are there for everyone to see. If we can maintain this tempo, we can really gain an upper hand," the intelligence officer said.