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Forces mull rebel strategy

- Poor visibility, vegetation growth in rains affect forest operations

Patna, July 5: More tactical operations with long-range patrolling (LRP) await Maoists in the monsoon months.

With a CRPF deputy commandant falling to rebel bullets in Jamui yesterday, senior police officers said there would be precautionary tactical changes so that the forces do not come under direct enemy fire.

“The LRP teams mainly move into the dense forests, which are Maoist hideouts. With the rain pouring continuously, the vegetation in the forests increases leading further chances of Maoist ambush. Visibility remains a problem during the rains in forests. The Jamui incident was unfortunate but the operations against the Maoists will not stop,” inspector-general of police (operations), S.M. Khopade, camping in Jamui, told The Telegraph today.

Harikant Jha, the deceased officer, was second-in-command of the CRPF’s 7th Battalion, stationed in Jharkhand’s Giridih district. A group of armed Maoists ambushed the team when it was on way to Lakhari village in Jamui to carry out a search operation on a tip-off. With the men, led by Jha, having no information about the topography of the area, the Maoists ambushed them killing Jha, hailing from Dhanbad in Jharkhand.

Police sources said one woman, suspected to be the wife of Sidhu Koda, the self-styled Maoist zonal commander of the area, had been nabbed by the security forces and was being interrogated. The woman was wearing Maoist uniform, the sources said, adding that along with her, some more suspects had been picked up.

“Before any team gets into the forest area for an LRP, local contacts will be used extensively and they will do an early recce of the area before the security forces set foot. Once they give the green signal, the security forces will move. This will save the forces from any risks. However, the operations against the Maoists will not stop and the police are planning two to three operations at this moment,” Khopade said.

The sources said movement in the forests was always a problem during the rains, especially for those who were new in the area.

“Wherever there is an operation going on, the forces first scan the forest areas and then set three to four pathways in which they move. They try not to deviate from those paths. During the rains, these pathways, because of the fresh grown vegetation, disappear and the forces cannot reconstruct them again as the rains are pouring all the time,” a police officer said on conditions of anonymity.

Six held

Six rebels were arrested from Murgibigha village in Maoist-hit Aurangabad district today.

Superintendent of police Upendra Kumar Sharma said the men in uniform cordoned off Murgibigha village on a tip-off and arrested the six. They were arrested while loading vegetables and food items into a tempo to carry them to a nearby jungle where rebel camps were located, he said.

Murgibigha is located in the jungles on the border of Bihar and Jharkhand and is considered a Maoist den.