|Sudhi Ranjan Sen, Wednesday November 18, 2009, Bastar|
Chhattisgarh’s Bastar district is all set to become a battleground between the state and the Maoists. NDTV travels inside the forests in the district to report on what lies ahead.
Deep inside, the forest is laden with a lot of mine pits – a sign that the Naxals are preparing for war.
And there could be hundreds such mines, being made ready for use and camouflaged by natural vegetation by the time government troops move in. The mines have been scattered across all possible approach routes of the forces.
“Like small ants that attack a snake at various at the same time, we are also going to do the same,” said Kadri Satyanarana Rao, also known as Kosa, president of the Dandyankaranya Special Zonal Committee, who will be leading the fight.
And that’s not all, the Maoists are also preparing to fight face to face. Their weapons range from old-fashioned shotguns, to AK-47s and even seized rifles like the INSAS.
His plan is simple: Multiple strikes, simultaneous cuts and break the moral of the force, much like the “guerilla warfare”.
Also, anticipating that local support would be crucial, Maoists are wooing the villagers by looking after their welfare.
“We are building up our capacity using people. We have asked our cadre to interact with people more. We will use the force of the people against the forces,” he said.
And these could be the Naxals’ biggest advantage because the tribal people here have never seen a government representative ever.
Even after with Chidambaram’s latest strategy to use force and development simultaneously, no government official has reached them yet.
Across Bastar the situation is very poor; there is no power, no roads, and no schools. So far only the Maoists were here, but now sometimes forces come this way.
And with this the Maoists are planning what could turn out to be the worst nightmare of the state.
“We are going to spread out across India and hit back,” said Kosa.
So how’s the government preparing?
The Chhattisgarh Police have created smaller teams, of about 8-12 commandoes, which are now being launched into the forest. Their mission is to search and destroy the Naxal targets.
So, instead of a massive offensive the state wants calibrated operations. And the man who is going to lead the government’s forces into Bastar is the Director General of Police Viswaranjan.
“We will move in carefully. Our idea to take back small patches of land, hold it with forces and allow development to start,” he said.
As we moved out of the forest, one thing was clear – no matter who wins or who loses, the days ahead are likely to be bloody and messy.