(As appeared on indiatoday.intoday.in)
For the men fighting the Maoist insurgency, 2013 has been a bad year. After losing ten men in Jharkhand’s Latehar district in the first week of the year, an internal study of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) compiled by the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) has revealed that the forces are losing their grip on the Red brigade. A copy of this assessment accessed, examines the performance of the forces over the last two years in the nine ‘affected’ states, manages to hit newer ground.
While in 2011, 72 Maoists were killed, in 2012, forces could achieve only 50 ‘kills’. Worryingly, the number of men from the CRPF, the lead agency in the anti-Maoist operations, killed rose from 26 in 2011 to 37 last year. Not surprisingly CRPF’s kill ratio, has dropped to 1.35 in 2012 as against 2.77 in 2011. The states where the CRPF lost most men last year were Maharashtra (13), Bihar (11), Chattisgarh (7), Jharkhand (4), Andhra Pradesh (2) and West Bengal (2). Casualties have drastically reduced in Chattisgarh and Jharkhand.
‘Conversion’ ratio, measured as number of kills achieved per encounter, too sees the CRPF suffering a reversal with only 50 rebels killed in 148 encounters, achieving a ratio of 0.34 against 72 deaths in 161 encounters, a ratio of 0.43.
IEDs most lethal
Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), the most preferred weapon of the Maoists, have proved themselves yet again. “More than 62% of our deaths are on account of the IEDs, which either hit our MPVs or are anti-personnel mines,” said a senior MHA official.
In 2012, the rebels had blasted a CRPF van in Maharashtra and a Mine Protection Vehicle (MPV) in Bihar. Sources added that despite so many casualties, only now the CRPF has managed to float a new tender for better MPVs. “Maoists know our MPVs so well that they are able to blast them with ease. Yet we have been very slow,” he said.
Cross-border operations picking up
Maoist insurgents often known to seek sanctuaries by exploiting inter-state boundaries, are now facing intensive efforts. “Maximum cooperation exists today between Jharkhand and surrounding states. Results between Uttar-Pradesh-Bihar, Andhra Pradesh-Chattisgarh, & Maharashtra-Chattisgarh too are picking up,” said an officer.
The number of apprehensions too have dropped from around 1683 in 2011 to 1358 in 2012, with Bihar (346) leading the way followed by Jharkhand (263), Andhra Pradesh (239), Odisha (131), Chattisgarh (127) and Maharashtra (102). “The problem is in convicting those apprehended.
In the Dantewada massacre of 2010, where we lost 76 personnel, ten were arrested but were acquitted due to lack of evidence,” recounted a senior CRPF officer.
Home Ministry pitches for more resources
Informed sources said that the MHA has cleared several purchases for the CRPF including Light Machine Guns (LMGs), Night Vision Devices (NVDs), Under Barrel Grenade Launchers (UBGL) and assault rifles. “Also, we are improving our coordination, cross border operations and tactics. We are in a much better shape than in the past,” said a senior officer.
Admitting to the findings, a source said, “We are hitting the Naxals where they were known to be invincible like Abujmadh in Chattisgarh and Saranda in Jharkhand. These statistics should not dampen our spirits. It was also learnt that the MHA has tasked the CRPF with preparation of encounter reports on monthly and quarterly basis to have a better grip on things.
- Of all paramilitary forces, CRPF has maximum deployment in Naxal-affected areas with over 75 battalions (50,000 men) spread across nine states
- Survey studied data from nine states over last two years
- 2010 was by far the worst year, with the CRPF losing over 150 men
- Lack of human and technical intelligence remains the biggest handicap