Sunday, October 28, 2007

Jharkhand: Anti-Naxal operations to cover 18 districts

NEW DELHI: CRPF and the state police, have launched Operation Vikram to flush out the Maoists and their collaborators who killed 18 people in Giridih district on Saturday.

Five companies of paramilitary forces (nearly 600 personnel) are, meanwhile, continuing raids in areas under Gaon, Tisri and Deori police stations in Giridih district and in Bihar's Jamui district, which borders the place where Marandi's son was killed, the sources added.

Operation Vikram, launched simultaneously in five districts -- Giridih, Latehar, Palamau, Gumla and Garhwa -- will eventually cover 18 districts where Maoists have a presence.

"The idea of the operation is to corner the Maoists and force them to come out from their hideouts. Though CRPF has already covered Latehar, Palamau, Gumla and Garhwa, it has been asked to concentrate on other districts where Naxalites have similar presence," a home ministry official said.

The killing of Marandi's son and others on Saturday is seen as a stark reminder of the Naxalites' determination to do away with politicians who, unlike their peers who have acquiesced to the armed domination of extremists, come in their way.

Of Jharkhand politicians, Marandi has been among the most vocal against the growing tentacles of extremists.

Sunil Mahato, a popular Lok Sabha representative, was seen as a thorn in their side for the same reason.

The incident in which Marandi's son Anup was killed is yet another proof of how the red ultras now attack at will. It confirms the fears of security agencies that the Naxalites, who took advantage of the now-discredited and abandoned ceasefire in Andhra Pradesh to spread their network and enhance their firepower, are moving towards Jharkhand.

"No one can underestimate the Maoists' prowess and a coordinated attack under such an operation is the need of the hour," the home ministry official said.

Importantly, the Chilkadih massacre followed a significant success by the security forces against the extremists on Friday when CRPF's 13th battalion raided the Gotag forest area in Latehar, a Naxalite hotbed.

Though the red ultras fled following a brief encounter, they left behind a big training camp-cum-weapon workshop.

The paramilitary force seized three double-barrel guns, an AK-47 rifle, 20 kg of cane bomb (bamboo poles filled with explosives), 20 kg of claymore mines, weapon-making tools like drilling and grinding machines, IED-making equipment including pressure switch, modern circuits, resistance, capacitors and transistor diodes.

"The seizures show the Maoists' preparedness. During the operation, security personnel will try to unearth other hideouts and training camps in the forest area," said the official.

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