Buoyed by recent successes at Markegaon, Mungner and Hatti Gota in Dhanora, Naxals are now targeting bigger goals by forming a strong assault group of around 100-odd fighters equipped with sophisticated weapons. The group, likely to be christened 'special force for assault operations', is in the formation stage presently, with members being hand-picked from local dalams for the purpose.
The newly set up outfit, with occasional reinforcements from Chhattisgarh dalams — Mohala and Pana Baras — is slated to become a formidable assault outfit. The Naxals have already increased their focus on looting arms and weapons, rather than only inflicting casualties, by targeting patrolling parties.
Sources in the Naxal groups say that they are now focussing on operations along the Gadchiroli and Chhattisgarh borders, after their plan to launch a Gadchiroli-Adilabad joint operation was aborted in the recent past.
Aiming to strengthen their operation along Gadchiroli-Chhattisgarh, the Naxals had shifted around 80-90 cadres from Dandakaranya. Cadres from Kurkheda, Chatgaon and Korchi are being promoted more in the Naxal's new scheme of things.
If local intelligence is to be believed, the once low-profile rebels are now moving about openly in the affected districts of the state, like their stronghold of Gadchiroli. Having completely turned the tables on the police department, with 34 casualties in four months, the Naxals are now a much more aggressive outfit under Mangal Korchami, alias Diwakar, and Sujan Singh Markham, alias Rajesh.
Diwakar and Rajesh were reportedly present in both the carnage, Markegaon (01/02) and Hatti Gota (25/05).
Reports say that the Naxals, who believe in 'mobile' warfare, had planned the recent Hatti Gota attack at Nallikasa, Dallikasa and Ambezhari villages, which are almost 20-25 kilometres away from the spot of attack.
Diwakar, an unlikely frail-looking person with a gruesome wound on his hand, reportedly inflicted by a tiger, is the guiding force of the Naxals now. He has been recently promoted as leader, and inducted into the Dandakaranya Special Zonal Committee. Diwakar's close aide Rajesh, whose wife Sunanda was gunned down in Chhattisgarh, was the brain behind Hatti Gota attack.
In the war of nerves between Naxalites and the police, the former seem to be having an upper hand. After their latest strike at Hatti Gota
in Gadchiroli district that claimed the lives of 16 policemen, the state security forces seem a demoralised lot.
The police department was jolted after losing four cops at Korepalli in 2008. It initially viewed that as one-off incident. It was followed by February 1 attack at Markegaon where Naxalites killed 15 cops. The force then reacted with alacrity and launched Operation Parakram. It involved additional forces, coordination with Chhattisgarh police, and even use of helicopters.
However, that operation failed to achieve any notable success. Instead, Naxalites struck again at Hatti Gota killing 16 more policemen. With this 38 cops have died at Naxalites' hands in Gadchiroli since Korepalli. The police could only claim to have gunned down three or four of Naxal cadres in the period. The only success of the police force in the recent past was the high voting in Gadchiroli despite a Naxal call for boycott of elections.
Post-Hatti Gota, the police response seems strangely lax. Observers say the the attacks have unnerved the rank and file. It is evident that the police forces are no match for a Naxal groups that are highly motivated. The Mungner encounter of April, which also claimed three cops, was revealing. The aggression, weapons and combat ability of the enemy group of more than 200 cadres showed a new strategy.
The cumulative effect is that right now cops seem to be lying low. It is learnt that at ground level only routine activities are being undertaken. There is no talk of retaliation or taking the fight into enemy camp. It is a recipe to embolden the rebels even more. Experts say a major change in leadership and political will are needed to regain the initiative from the rebels.
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