Tuesday, April 6, 2010

6/4: INDIA'S BLACK DAY IN COUNTER-INSURGENCY

B.RAMAN

6/4 will go down as a black day in the history of India's counter-insurgency just as 26/11 became a black day in the history of Indian counter-terrorism.


2. In a well-prepared and well-executed attack of unprecedented mobilisation, precision and savagery a large number of Maoists (Naxalites_) --- estimated by the local police to be about 1000 strong--- ambushed a combined party of over 80 members of the Central Resereve Police Force (CRPF) and the District Police returning from road security duty and managed to kill 72 members of the CRPF and one member of the District police force on April 6,2010. The Maoists had reportedly taken up position on a hill overlooking the route by which the party was returning after performing its task. It is not clear whether the route was a regular road or a motorable jungle track. The ambush took place in the thick Mukrana forests of Chhattisgarh's Dantewada district.


3. The fact that the Maoists were able to mobilise such a large number of persons for the ambush would indicate that they had advance indication of the return of the CRPF party by that route. They might have had advance intelligence of the plans of the party or they might have assessed that the CRPF might be returning by this road after watching the CRPF men conduct search and destroy operations in the area for three days.


4. A rule of precaution in counter-insurgency operation is that you don't use the same route for going to an operational area and for returning from there. Often, this precaution is not followed by the security forces either due to carelessness or due to the fact that the security forces do not have much of a choice due to the poor development of roads in the jungle areas in which the Maoists operate.


5. One may recall an incident a couple of years ago when a large police party had gone by boat from Andhra Pradesh into Orissa . The Maoists had noticed them going and had correctly assessed that the AP police party would be returning by the same route. When they did, a large number of Maoists had taken up position on a raised feature overlooking the river and they literally mowed down over 50 members of the police party.


6. We had probably not learnt the right lessons from the river ambush and facilitated a deadly road ambush in thick forests by not following basic dos and donts of counter-insurgency. The CRPF and the District Police have to perform a thankless task for want of proper road and telecommunications networks in the Maoist-infected areas. While the Maoists are trained to treck long distances by foot, the security forces tend to be road and vehicles-bound. They become sitting ducks for the insurgents, who surprise them with explosives and landmines and then mow them down with hand-held weapons. The reflexes of the security forces tend to be weak as could be seen from the fact that there have been very few instances of an ambushed security forces patrol recovering from the ambush and retaliating against the Maoists. Ambushes always tend to be fatal for the security forces with very few instances of successful counter-ambushes by the security forces.


7. Continuing serious deficiencies in rural policing and in police-rural communities relationships have been coming in the way of village help for the police by way of preventive intelligence. Counter-intelligence in the rural areas to prevent the penetration of the security forces by the Maoists is also weak. The fact that only one member of the District Police was killed in the ambush of April 6 as against 72 members of the CRPF makes one suspect possible collusion between the Maoists and some members of the District Police. Since the Maoist and the District Police recruits are recruited from the same rural stock, possibilities of penetration of the new police recruits by the Maoists are high.


8. The time has come to think in terms of using helicopter patrols and spotter drones in our counter-insurgency operations against the Maoists in areas covered by thick jungles. An important question to be examined in this connection is how to prevent civilian casualties of villagers and residents of jungles and avoid environmental damage. (6-4-10)


( The writer is Additional Secretary (Retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: seventyone2@gmail.com )

5 comments:

ambi said...

It’s time to go wild. I don’t care what that means.

Cordon of & Burn the jungle where these Maoists are hiding. Attack Nepal if required, from where these savages get their support. Empty your bullets in the head of Prachanda for that matter. I don’t care.

If Buddhadeb Bhattacharya, Shibu Soren, Raman Singh come in between, eliminate them first & then go after Maoist. I want revenge. I don’t care whether we win this war or loose. I just want to see Kishenji & his gang bleeds. I want retribution. Pound them through Planes.

I want New Delhi to set an example out of this. Unleash your wrath. Till then I won’t get peace.

Sarang said...

Hi Ambi, I share your angst and frustration. I pulled out my hair too when I heard the news. But when I calmed down I realized that there is no use getting frustrated.

UPA government with D. Manmohan Singh, A.K Anthony, S.M Krishna, Sonia Gandhi, P Chidambaram, Rahul Gandhi etc are JUST INCAPABLE of strong action!! A few strong words will be said, revenge will be promised but THAT'S ALL! My dear friend, if the death of 166 civilians in the heart of Mumbai (many of them foreigners and rich people) did not get these fools off their ASS, do you think they are going to act after the killing of 'just' 75 CRPF jawans? No way!

Please don't get your hopes up...it will just lead to more sorrow...

Aviano1 said...

A black day indeed.GOI does not want to use army. fine.what about the airforce? not for combat operations, but for logistics and surveilance.Surely the presence of drones with FLIR capabilties, as pointed by Mr Raman,would be extremely usefull in this fight against the maoists. But the main aim of the state and central govt should be the alienation of the maoist leadership and if required their elimination, in conjunction with meeting the demands of the tribals. someone did mention setting up of reservations for the tribals, but don't know how feasible such a setup would be in india.

Ram said...

Dear Ramanji,

From your balanced systematic and analysis one can conclude that:
1)Union Home Ministry and Central Government are responsible for this debacle. Should not heads roll from the Home Minister to the Cabinet Secretary/Home Secretary/Prime Minister? DOES INDIAN GOVERNMENT AND BUREAUCRACY HAVE NO SHAME AT ALL?

What would have happened if VVIP or union Cabinet Minister had been assassinated? This incident proves an average Indian policemen or civiian is ZERO unless he is a big shot.

LEADERSHIP HAS DIED IN INDIA TODAY!

2)Unfortunately in present day INDIA lack of accountability and punishment for top politicians and bureaucrats is sorely lacking is root of MALAISE and shows JUSTICE HAS FAILED.

Also the Indian military publicly says it is law and order problem while global experience has proved that Such formidable naxalite Maoist movements whether in Sir Lanka-JVP or South America like Shining Path cannot be countered without specialised skills of the military.
THSI IS A WAR AND INDIANNEEDS GENERALS not blood and money suckling politicians and bureaucrats.
3)When billions of dollars is spent on Indian VVIP security why not on saving innocent Indian lives? WELL DOES IT NOT REMIND US OF INFAMOUS CHARGE OF THE LIGHT BRIGADE!!!!


A VERY TRAGIC AND DISHEARTENING IN HISTORY OF MODERN INDIA WHEN FEET OF CLAY OF CONGRESS GOVERNMENT HAS BEEN EXPOSED AGAIN AND AGAIN

Usless Indian politicians can only earn money for next 70 generations and have IPL tamashas BUT WHERE ARE THE REAL INDIAN HEROS do that exist only in our imagination.

Regards

Ram

MANAS PAUL said...

Dear Raman Sir, I am from Tripura where jungle guerrilas -perhaps more trained and better equipped than the Maoists -were contained effectively by using state force. It is where also the raging militancy that had once brought about a total collapse of development process in the forested and hilly terrain dominated by the tribals. But now Tripura guerrillas are down if not altogether out. A semblance of Peace now prevails. And who led the counter insurgency offensives here--It was by and large the Tripura State Rifles (TSR)- an elite combatant force raised by the state where local youths constitute 75 percent and the rest are from all over the country. Why the TSR succeeded ? because they knew the terrains well, the knew the local language, when they met the locals infested by militants they could very well 'feel' the facial expressions, read subtle changes in the voice and movement of eyes and gaits...everything, all nuance that would give away the presence of the militants in the vicinity. The local knowledge that encompasess everything ---'understanding the problems', 'knowing the topography', 'feeling' the individuals -innocent villagers, sources as well as militants in civvies-helped them combat the guerrillas. Besides, launching counter insurgency campaign the startegy also involved static deployment of the TSR in strategic locations plugging out guerrillas' movements and monitoring villages where they used to take shelter and food. One more component was inspiring TSR and police personnel by reward and out of turn promotions by their top brass.. As militancy is effectively contained Tripura is now on the fast track of development .
But one of the most important point is certainly the training of the TSR. They were exhaustively trained in taking on guerrilas like a guerrila and --also in jungle warfare. They were trained by army in Vairangte in Mizoram and they have their own similar training facility in Kachucherra in Dhalai district of Tripura.
But my moot point here is --are the CRPF personnel really trained to counter the guerrillas in jungle and forested land in deep interiors--where they move like fish in their own rivers ? A Harianvi or a Tamil or a Sikh --can they really understand or 'feel' what was actually happening around them while conducting the counter insurgency campaign? Can they really read what the local villager want to say with his or her sudden change in intonation or subtle facial expression? Are the CRPF personnel suitably trained in jungle warfare ???? It is obvious they were not..or they would not make the mistakes that they did on 6 April. Even they had got the actionable intel inputs of mobilisng hunderds of guerrilas--strange hundreds of guerrilas in ambush--they would have failed. Not only they would have been outnumbered but at any given moment hundreds of flying bullets from all possible directions would have certainly unnerved and unsettled the CRPF contingents who were waylaid.

Of course the TSR also suffered heavy loses but ultimately they achieved the goal to a great extent. Other forces also had their share in the success but it is the TSR who can rightly feel proud of leading the campaign .
I believe it is the time that TSR should be immediately deployed in the Maoists areas, because not only they are trained , they are experienced too, a large contingent of the force is also from those areas Jharkhand, Chhatishgarh, AP etc. They would be right choice right now..they would not turn out sitting duck for the killer squads of Maoists.