Security personnel need better gear, technology to take on the outlaws without suffering losses
There seems to be something grossly wrong with the counter-insurgency operations unleashed by the security forces against Maoists in the Red Corridor. Had it not been so, 22 jawans would not have died in Chhattisgarh’s south Bastar in an ambush laid by those who they are out to hunt. Apparently, the Naxalites had prior information about the police party’s movement and were tracking them on a real-time basis. They trapped the personnel and killed them; those who could escape were just fortunate. It was a combined operation, with the personnel drawn from the Special Task Force (STF), District Reserve Guard (DRG), Chhattisgarh Police, CRPF and its elite CoBRA unit. But what went wrong? Usually, it is the State police’s duty to provide Intelligence inputs; the information is then shared with the paramilitary and subsequently an operation is planned. The lower-ranking officer or constable’s input plays a vital role in designing the intricacies of the operation, only after which the party moves for combat. Ironically, there is no guarantee of such inputs being foolproof, as also that the policeman or his informers might be acting as “double agents”. This can, and sometimes does, prove lethal to the security personnel. The operation’s success depends upon zeroing down on the exact location from all sides, allowing no room for the Naxals to escape. It often involves a contingency plan to switch over to at the eleventh hour when the party is out for an operation and in case the Maoists have advance information.
What exactly went wrong in the Bastar case is a matter of investigation. If it was an Intelligence or planning failure, then not only the lower-rung officers but also those involved in planning the operation should be held accountable. Police parties out to hunt down Naxals are often also targeted on their way back after an operation. Apparently, there are inconsistencies in the way the police parties communicate among themselves. Often, the Naxals manage to hear the messages on radio sets used by the security forces by accidentally setting the same frequency. They decode the message and gather all information about the planning against them. Also, the forces operate on different frequencies (as allocated) and there is a pressing need to have a common channel that is impenetrable. Though drones are used in combing operations but our forces need advanced tools and technology that cannot be accessed by Maoists or terrorists. There is also a need to strengthen the Intelligence network with the involvement of paramilitary personnel to ensure that they do not have to depend solely on police information. It’s not enough to announce compensation for the family of martyrs or those who are injured. It’s also not sufficient to go all-out in a hurry against Naxalites after any such incident. In retaliatory operations, often the innocent villagers or tribal are caught in the crossfire. Our security personnel work in very harsh conditions and in difficult terrains. They deserve much better in terms of logistics, tactics and Intelligence-gathering, apart from the basic amenities.