Maoists catch security set-up off-guard

The security establishment sees the treatment meted out to bodies of security personnel in Latehar district of Jharhand by Maoists as a sign of their desperation to strike back and defend one of their strongholds. A senior official of the Union Home Ministry said the Maoists were slowly being confined to smaller areas and it had now become a matter of existence for them. And that for this, they were even resorting to brutality, so as to demoralise the forces.

After the encounter in Latehar in which 10 security personnel were killed, the Maoists had rigged the bodies of jawans with IEDs and explosives and, in a first, implanted a 2 kg IED in the abdomen of one of them.

While the brutality may be a sign of desperation, what the incident has also laid bare is that officials were completely caught off-guard by the scale of the attack.

In the lack of a well-entrenched intelligence network, central forces like the CRPF depend heavily on information from the state police for any operation in any area affected by Left Wing Extremism (LWE). The state machinery may or may not help. Former home minister P Chidambaram had tried to plug this hole by creating a new intelligence wing for the force. But even after a year, it is yet to function on an independent basis. Many key positions are still vacant.

While the Naxal menace has been identified as India's greatest internal crisis, security agencies still do not have any fresh information on the top 10 leaders in the Maoist hierarchy, let alone their new photographs. All one can get hold of are grainy pictures, some as old as their college days or at least a decade old, others culled out from old records in government files. The Maoists, on the other hand, continue to be armed with the best of weapons and remain in strong numbers, a fact not assessed judiciously by the official network.

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