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Operation Flushout, 4 days on
- Braving poor record, Jharkhand deploys task force in forest

Ranchi, Dec. 23: The state police have pushed in two companies of the Central Reserve Police Force and one of the Jharkhand Armed Police deep into the jungles of Saranda to “flush out” MCC activists.

The theory on which the police brains are working is that after executing the attack on a convoy four days ago, the extremists would still be holed up in the vicinity. But such “cleansing operations” in the aftermath of earlier Naxalite attacks had not been successful, according to the police’s own admission.

Director-general of police R.R. Prasad told The Telegraph this evening that the “pressure” through these three companies would continue for some time. But he did not say how successful the “operations” would be.

“Such force combinations constitute what is generally known as a special task force for conducting anti-extremist operations. We are waiting for the results. We are hopeful,” the state police chief said after a high-level meeting on the matter.

The DGP claimed that there was no “surprise element” in the MCC attack because the police had information of the Naxalites infiltrating the region over the past few months. “The MCC killed the village munda (headman) because he was suspected to be a police informer. The recovery of a police rifle looted in the Churchu attack in Hazaribagh from the Manoharpur region also hinted at their presence,” Prasad said.

But police sources said if the official intelligence available on the Naxalites’ movement in Singhbhum was strong enough, a corresponding “counter” strategy was not reflected during the past months. “The MCC rebels obviously did not surface in the region from nowhere. There must have been secret movements over a considerable period through the jungles. Some patrols were indeed conducted in the Bandgaon-Chaibasa-Kiriburu belt but their intensity was comparatively low,” the sources said.

The police department is entitled to a large amount of money for spending on “intelligence gathering”. Police officials handling operations, including district police chiefs, are supposed to spend the amount as per their discretion.

The oblique reference of the police headquarters is that the Munda who was killed was an “informer”.

The record of the Naxalite outfits in the state indicates that they had not been proved “wrong” on their “intelligence gathering exercise” on most occasions.

“The extremists’ classification of a ‘mole’ in a Naxalite-influenced village has been impeccable. Soon after the formation of Jharkhand, the MCC targeted Beltu village in Hazaribagh and killed over a dozen persons. Each person killed was a member of the Gram Suraksha Dal, constituted with police backing for the security of the village. Other residents were safely bolted inside their houses. Can there be a better example of intelligence gathering'” wondered a Naxalite watcher.

The long-term strategy of countering the growing influence of the extremists in the state continues to be a matter of speculation. What, however, is clear is that the claims of authorities, including chief minister Babulal Marandi, have started to ring hollow.

For at least 18 months after assuming office, the chief minister used to reiterate that the Naxalites were “on the run” everywhere because of the strong police offensive. But despite Marandi’s claim, the rebel onslaught continued, springing one “surprise” after another. Sources said the chief minister, since April 1 last year, has become certain of at least two things: “First that calls of retributive onslaught have not cut ice with the extremist. And second, a carrot like surrender policy is an equally futile exercise.” It was on April Fools’ Day last year that the government’s “surrender policy” for the extremists was announced.

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