New Delhi: On March 17, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh told Lok Sabha that the number of Naxal-affected districts in the country has fallen to 68 from 106, a decline of more than 35%.
He said the Naxal problem was waning and will come down further, going forward.
This was in sync with his earlier statement in January that demonetisation has completely crippled Naxalsâ funding. âThe intelligence information received by us shows their problems have increased. Their strength has reduced,â Singh had said.
About a month and more than 40 deaths later, the Home Ministerâs claims are ringing hollow. On March 11, as the BJP headquarters in New Delhi and Lucknow were celebrating the decisive win in Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls, Naxals had struck in Sukma, Chhattisgarh, killing 12 CRPF personnel on the spot. Two others succumbed to their injuries later, taking the toll to 14. The Home Minister said, the deadly attack âshowed the frustration of Naxalsâ.
[blurb]Exposing that somewhere the government failed to tackle the Maoists, an even bigger attack took place on Monday, killing 26 CRPF men in the same Sukma district. This is forcing New Delhi to rethink and revaluate the strategy to deal with the Naxals.[/blurb]
Former Home Secretary and BJP MP RK Singh told CNN News18 that âthere is a need for ground intelligence gathering.â
Former CRPF Director General Prakash Mishra, under whose tenure Naxal attacks had come down, termed the current situation as a complete failure of strategy.
[quote]âThere has to be a level of unpredictability in the movement of forces. We canât be seen every day taking a route and coming back. The deeper areas have to be sanitised first,â he said.[/quote]
Mishra added that maintaining stealth is crucial to success of anti-Naxal operation, while the current focus is to be seen to be doing stuff on the ground.
Central Reserve Police Force is doing with a part time director general (DG) for a month now. After K Durga Prasadâs retirement in February, Sudeep Lakhtakia has been holding additional charge of the post of DG.
In the Sukma incident, preliminary details suggest one flank of the CRPF company came under attack from Naxals who were waiting in hiding to attack. And soon, 23, including the inspector who was leading the group, were killed.
It was the same area where the March 11 attack took place. A top Home Ministry officer told CNN-News18 that the investigation report of the March 11 attack has not been handed over to ministry as yet.
Is overconfidence and complacency creeping in our anti-Naxal policy? Could we have learnt lessons from the Biji Encounter, if the investigation was completed in time? Could Burkapal Encounter be avoided if the Biji Encounter lessons were implemented? Experts are now raising tough questions.