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Maoists growing stronger, waging war of the mind: CRPF chief

November 26, 2009

Hindustan Times
Indo-Asian News Service
November 25, 2009
New Delhi, Nov. 25 (IANS) -- The fight is between
7,000-8,000 armed Maoist rebels versus
60,000-70,000 security personnel. But the enemy
is "incisive, self critical and educative", armed
with sophisticated weaponry and is constantly
changing tactic in what is increasingly become a
war of the mind, says the paramilitary Central
Reserve Police Force (CRPF) chief.

As the government gears up for a massive
offensive against the guerrillas, top officials
of the CRPF say the guerrillas are "growing
stronger" and must not be underestimated.

"They are changing their tactics depending upon
what we are doing," CRPF Director General A.S. Gill told IANS in an interview.

Giving an example, he said they have increased
the usage of pressure mines. "They are also using
sharpened iron nails. They have dug ditches in
jungles and covered it with normal grass after
hiding nails inside. Though these nails do not
kill any trooper, it affects swift movement of
the security agencies," Gill said.

The Maoists, he said, were also avoiding direct
contact with security forces. "They just pass
from nearby areas," added Gill, who heads one of
the world's largest paramilitary forces. The CRPF
has 207 battalions with a strength of over 200,000 personnel.

The security forces had also changed strategy to
minimise operational casualties from improvised
explosives used by the guerrillas.

"For a long time, we did not acknowledge that the
Maoists were growing stronger, but there is a
greater realisation now. We have changed our
tactics and training. Theatre specific training
has also been introduced for the first time to
enhance specific capabilities in fighting the
problems of militancy and insurgency," he said.

The CRPF was also raising 10 new commando
battalions and acquiring the best available
weapons and equipment to fight the guerrillas.

"We will have Maoists on the run very soon. The
areas under their control would be taken back," he promised.

His colleague, CRPF Special Director General
Vijay Raman, added: "We are facing an enemy which
is fighting from the brain. They are very
incisive, self critical and educative. The
documents seized from them shows the meticulous planning behind their strikes."

Raman is a celebrated police officer who has been
appointed by the home ministry as national
coordinator in the anti-Maoist campaign.

Though the government has not specified any time
frame for the launch of the nationwide operation
against the guerrillas, it is believed that the
offensive will begun in March next year.

Asked how long would the operations last, Raman
said: "No such time frame could be set. The task
is very challenging and it might take some time."

Estimating that about 7,000-8,000 armed Maoist
cadres would be up in arms against 60,000-70,000
security personnel, CRPF chief Gill listed what
makes the guerrillas formidable enemies.

"They are armed with light machine guns (LMG),
AK-47s, AK-56s, Insas rifles, satellite phones,
modern communication gadgets. It also believed
that some of the top rungs have managed to
acquire bulletproof jackets," he said.

"They are in touch with anti-national elements in
northeastern states and are getting weapons from
them. The people in the northeast are getting
weapons and money from across the border. They
are also in touch with Maoists in Nepal and
extorting money from miners to fund their activities," he added.

Gill said the Maoists enjoy the advantage of
having a significant presence in each village of
their stronghold states. "We would be also
focusing on breaking up their information network."

The CRPF that has been dealing with internal
security challenges all across the country has
this year gunned down 70 terrorists, 56 Maoists
and 53 extremists in northeast. During these
operations it also incurred heavy loss by sacrificing its nearly 200 men.

Troops from other central paramilitary forces
like Indo-Tibet Border Police, Border Security
Force, Central Industrial Security Force and
Sashastra Seema Bal have started grouping and
upgrading their infrastructure in preparation for
the offensive against the Maoists.

They were also familiarising themselves with the
terrain and undergoing training. The government
has left commandos of the National Security Guard (NSG) out of the operation.
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