Raipur: Frustrated by a series of setbacks, the cadres of the outlawed Communist Party of India (Maoists) have made a change in strategy. They are now focussing more on damaging public properties by using innocent villagers as their tool instead of directly clashing with police and security personnel.

Within 72 hours of 15 ultras being gunned down by security personnel in the Sukma district of Chhattisgarh, which is one of the worst-hit by insurgency, Maoists on August 6 triggered an IED (improvised explosive device) blast, uprooted railway tracks, torched passenger buses and trucks in the Bastar division. 

In a recent encounter that took place in a forest near Nalkatong village in Sukma, security personnel eliminated 15 Maoists. Two rebels were also arrested and 16 firearms recovered from the spot of the encounter. 

“Ultras have managed to execute incidents that recently took place in Dantewada by using villagers (including women) equipped with traditional bow and arrow. Frustrated after facing a series of setback at the hands of security personnel, the rebels are now indiscriminately damaging public property and also directing their frontal organisation (in recent meetings) not to have direct face-off with the police and forces deployed in the region because it may cause severe damage,” said Dantewada superintendent of police, Abhishek Pallav.

The change in strategy was also reported by IB and SIB, added the Dantewada SP.

He further said that the change in strategy was motivated to create pressure on the government and police, but the forces here are working patiently as their intention was not to hurt innocent villagers. 

Executing attacks by using villagers, the Maoists have been testing the patience of the security forces and want the police to retaliate so that they could create hue and cry if any villager is killed in retaliation. 

The police cannot target or arrest these villagers if they are moving with bow and arrows because it’s a part of their culture and rituals here, explained the SP.

According to Pallav, the rebels have suffered failure in all possible aspects, be it targeting security personnel directly, ambushing or by planting IEDs so they have now come up with the idea of damaging properties and compelling villagers to do their bidding. The rebels are now forcing villagers to torch vehicles and damage public property. If anyone refuses to comply with their diktat, they are branded as police informers and tortured. They police have understood the strategy of the Maoists and efforts are underway to identify rebels who are provoking these villagers.

The thinking behind the Maoists' strategy is to somehow trap the police in human rights issues, especially with elections approaching, so that they become weak, said the SP, adding that the rebels are frustrated due to recent setbacks.

It is to be mentioned here that on August 7, an assistant commandant of CRPF’s elite CoBRA unit was injured in an IED blast triggered by the rebels in Sukma district. The incident took place in village Timilguda when security personnel were out on an anti-Maoist exercise. While patrolling, assistant commandant K Ijung accidently stepped over an IED leading to blast. The officer suffered multiple injuries in the blast.

Apart from this, the locomotive of an empty rake of the Visakhapatnam-Kirandul passenger train was derailed after rebels uprooted railway tracks near the Kamaloor railway station in Dantewada on August 8. The spot of incident falls under the Kottavalasa-Kirandul line of the East Coast Railway. However, no casualties were reported in the accident.

On Wednesday night, a group of armed ultras torched two passenger buses and truck in Dantewada. The incident took place on Dantewada-Bacheli road. According to information received, armed cadres vacated passenger buses and torched it to create terror in the region. Similarly, the Maoists have torched as many as five trucks engaged in road construction works in Dantewada on Thursday night. The incident took place under the jurisdiction of the Bacheli police station around 2.30 am, added police. The group comprised 40-50 rebels equipped with traditional weapons and firearms reported to have executed the crime.

In the wake of the recent Maoist incident, security personnel have stepped over security arrangements in the insurgency-hit district and are undertaking extensive operations to avert any untoward incident.

With inputs from Sandeep Pradhan