Latehar lesson: ‘Tactical lapses’ mar CRPF ops

While the Home Ministry is yet to grapple with the operational details of the encounter that led to the killing of CRPF men in Latehar, Jharkhand, by Maoists last week, fingers are being pointed at the leader of the platoon for engaging Maoists without anticipating their actual strength.

It is reliably learnt that in an incident report to the MHA, the CRPF has admitted at least two "tactical lapses", including the role of an assistant commandant leading the raid party who became "over-enthusiastic" during the encounter. DG Pranay Sahay, however, said, "We have not come across anything of such sort."

At the same time, another CRPF official said it was the AC who took the initiative to lead the operation against the Maoists. "There were some verbal discussions on this subject and an analysis was done whether it was the right to go ahead without anticipating the strength of the Maoists. But that would only be blame-game," he added.

Clearly, there are two versions of the incident as the opinion of the security hierarchy that deals with Naxal violence is divided. A careful analysis of the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) during such encounter is also being carried out. In its report, CRPF is also learnt to have expressed "the need for review of tactics" and exercise "more patience" at the time of operations.

It may be noted that after 2010 Dantewada massacre, the security forces have been treading cautiously while carrying out operations. The security establishment has been mulling over the options of either launching offensive operations or continuing with area domination approach without being "over-adventurous."

The Latehar incident has sparked off a debate in North Block on how to reflect the outcome of the present incident. Meanwhile, the Centre has asked the Naxal-affected states to be on high alert in the wake of Maoist's Tactical Counter Offensive Campaign (TCOC), which is likely to be held this summer.

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