ROURKELA: Taking advantage of what security forces call ‘critical gaps’, the Maoists in a redesigned strategy have been trying to regroup at vulnerable pockets of adjacent Saranda forest in West Singhbhum district of Jharkhand territory and parallel bordering areas of Odisha’s Sundargarh and Keonjhar districts.
To counter the Maoists’ strategy, the two States are planning redeployment of CRPF and state police forces on Rourkela-Sambalpur axis in Odisha and West Singhbhum-Simdega axis in Jharkhand.
Well-placed sources said having studied the force deployment pattern in Saranda and jurisdictions of the Rourkela and Keonjhar police districts, the Maoist operatives have changed their strategy of alignment and are using new forest routes not frequented by security forces. Over the past three years, the Eastern Regional Bureau (ERB) of the banned outfit in Saranda was rendered defunct due to heavy deployment of security forces leading to peace in Odisha side.
Yet, in the wake of the ongoing panchayat elections in Jharkhand, the Maoist movements increased in Saranda and along the Odisha-Jharkhand border. Incidentally, after a long hiatus Rourkela police on November 11, gunned down two Maoists, dismantled a camp and seized arms and ammunition during combing operations in Chandiposh police limits.
To keep the pressure on the Maoists, Odisha police DG KB Singh on Sunday and CRPF DG Prakash Mishra on Thursday reviewed the anti-Maoist operations at Rourkela and emphasised on redeployment of forces.
Jharkhand’s West Singhbhum SP Michael Raj said except burning of three trucks on November 14 night at Kolbhanga of Saranda, no major Maoist related incident has been reported in recent times. He said 18 companies of CRPF have been deployed at 16 locations to cover Saranda and connecting Porahat forest. Without giving any specification, he said several new locations have been identified for redeployment of forces.
Odisha police sources said the redeployment includes relocation of CRPF camps and establishment of new camps by Indian Reserve Battalion, Special Security Battalion and Odisha Auxiliary Police Force. They said the CRPF camp at Keonjhar is in the process of being shifted to Western Odisha and the vacuum will be filled up by State forces.
Rourkela-based IGP (Western Range) RK Sharma said areas facing moderate threat will have the presence of State police forces. He said redeployment of CRPF is underway on Sundargarh-Deogarh-Sambalpur axis, while a CRPF company is recently posted at Barkote of Keonjhar.
Maoist threat along Odisha-Jharkhand border and rest of Keonjhar district has drastically come down and Rourkela police are also effectively maintaining law and order along Odisha-Jharkhand border. The Western Police range in Odisha has CRPF presence at 10 locations.