Issue Brief – Maoist ambush in Chhattisgarh

Executive Summary
The ambush of a convoy of Congress party leaders in Chhattisgarh on May 25th, 2013, was one of the most ambitious attacks by the Maoists. It was a well-planned attack and shows a complete security and intelligence failure. The Maoists have attained their tactical aim of projecting their power while creating political and moral uncertainty in the state.

The most pressing challenge for the state government is to ensure the sanctity of the electoral process for the forthcoming assembly elections. The political process will have to be shielded from the effects of this Maoist action and consequent reaction of the security forces. While the Indian state cannot shirk from doing everything it needs to do to defeat the Maoists, it must also do everything it can to politically engage and win over the tribals.

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The ambush should be analysed in the light of the strategic and political landscape where the Maoists were under duress and parties increasing their reach in the tribal areas. This does not mean that this ambush is a sign of weakness from the Maoists. It could also be a signal of Maoist revival and resurgence for the next stage of conflict in the state.

The immediate response of the government will be to send in additional central paramilitary forces into Bastar region. The other prong of the strategy will be to raise more special forces in the state, modeled on the lines of the Greyhounds in Andhra Pradesh. Both are erroneous propositions. The key to success against the Maoists lies in intelligence-led operations and better policing, and not in reactive combing operations or ‘area domination’ exercises which further alienate the locals and the tribals.

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