| RED THREAT
New Delhi, Oct. 26: In a way, Maoists have succeeded in their design: the enemy is drawing into Naxalite territory.
But the CRPF officials are turning out to be more intelligent than the Maoists probably bargained for.
The largest central paramilitary force has set up at least three forward bases deep into the Naxalite territory in Chhattisgarh.
On the other hand, CRPF officials have begun the Sanjeevani programme this month to tackle stress in its ranks and has introduced special welfare measures for jawans.
The director-general of the CRPF, S.I.S. Ahmed, said after Naxalites killed 15 jawans last year in an ambush in Dantewada district and another young assistant commandant, the force has changed tactics.
We have made forward bases and there would be helipads to enable air support, he said, on the sidelines of an anniversary programme of the force today.
To enhance effectiveness in the remote areas, CRPF has proposed that the Indian Air Force be requisitioned to extend support to the 12 CRPF battalions in the rough terrain in Chhattisgarh.
Ahmed conceded that helicopters of the Border Security Force (BSF) and the state government have delayed reactions during emergencies.
When distances are more than 15km, they said, the terrain obstructs quick evacuation.
With forward bases in the region, medical attention, not to mention tactical advantage, will be achieved by security forces. The bases are in Bastar region, said sources.
Until recently, security forces had bases largely on the periphery of the core area of the Naxalites or in towns.
Having forward bases also indicates that Naxalites have been pushed backwards while the administration takes control of, what was earlier, part of the Naxalite liberated zone.
In the Abuj Mar forests spanning across Dantewada, Bastar, Jagdalpur and Bijapur districts, Naxalites rule the roost.
There is difficulty in logistics and several lives are lost as the injured do not receive proper medical attention in time. This year alone, 55 jawans lost lives while 200 were injured.
Among Naxalites, there were 213 casualties.