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Photo: AFP
Photo: AFP

Naxals chart plans to expand in Odisha, poll-bound Jharkhand

  • The rebels are preparing for expansion and increased aggression in the region, say intelligence reports
  • Naxals are planning to expand towards regions where Hindi, Gondi, Jagrayi are spoken

NEW DELHI : Central authorities may have used everything in their armoury to try and stop the spread of Naxalism, but the rebel force’s new leaders are laying down concrete and detailed plans to expand their base, citing “American efficiency and Russian revolutionary enthusiasm" as the stepping stones to success.

An intelligence report accessed by Mint shows the Naxals preparing for expansion and increased aggression, especially in Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, and poll-bound Jharkhand.

The report, which has unsettled the centre and security forces, comes at a time when the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been hard-selling plans to strengthen security in the midst of Lok Sabha elections.

An area of 5,000 sq. miles (12,949.94 sq. km) of uncharted land in the Dandakaranya forested region, of which 3,000 sq. miles falls in Chhattisgarh, serves as the main sanctuary for the Naxals.

Now, the Naxals under the leadership of Basavaraj are “developing their revolution towards the north and then the east and thus developing a new link with their ongoing battle zones of Odisha and Jharkhand… where security forces are not focusing as of now."

The Naxals have already spread their wings in what security forces call the ‘MMC-axis’ (Maharashtra-Madhya Pradesh-Chhattisgarh), according to the report. An armed division of the extremists has been deployed along Balaghat in Madhya Pradesh, Rajnandgaon in Chhattisgarh, and Gondia in Maharashtra.

With an eye on the Madhya Pradesh-Chhattisgarh border, which is dotted with steep ravines and forests, the Naxals now aim to start the groundwork of expansion from Chilpi Ghati in Kabirdham district, adjoining Mandla district in Madhya Pradesh.

“The main expansion is proposed from south to north depending upon the situation as it arises and the expansion will also spill over to the west and the east," said a senior intelligence official familiar with the developments.

“Expansion will also include areas of Kanha National Park (Amarkantak) and Balaghat-Mandla in Madhya Pradesh, Vindhya hills and the Mahanadi river area. They have done a survey of the police stations and camps, which will prove to be an obstruction and will avoid those areas," said the official mentioned above.

The intelligence report notes that the Naxal “modus operandi focuses on papers and talks about American efficiency and Russian revolutionary enthusiasm as the key to success".

The regrouped armed cadres aim to induct “poor farmers, women, scheduled castes, government employees, students, teachers and workers from neighbouring towns" into their cadre, according to the report.

Naxal literature has spelt out its target—“forced displacement of tribals in the buffer zone of Kanha National Park… who relocate to the Chhattisgarh border area." Paramilitary forces have observed that farmlands in the area are now being cleaned by the locals “to sow paddy to pay the Naxals."

“This is an extremely dangerous trend. This means that the Naxals have the support of locals. We have already started covert operations to thwart expansion plans," said a senior security force official, seeking anonymity.

While the Naxals have changed tact in Chhattisgarh, under Basavaraj, to focus more on ambushes, spikes along roads, IED blasts (improvised explosive devices), vehicle torching and small action traps, security forces are hoping that the trend of Naxals “terrorizing and needlessly killing villagers" will dissuade villagers from lending support to them.

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