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Camps in forests for quick chase

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  • Published 13.08.09

Midnapore, Aug. 13: The security forces are planning to set up camps deep in the jungles for the next phase of operation Lalgarh.

After a long huddle with top police and paramilitary officers in Midnapore town today, home secretary Ardhendu Sen said: “We had met to decide our course of action. We also discussed the problems the forces are facing and ways to overcome them.”

Writers’ Buildings has already given the nod to the next phase, which will involve chasing Maoists inside forests.

Since entering Lalgarh in end-June, the forces have restricted themselves to patrolling village roads and forest fringes. Maoists took advantage of that and launched a killing spree, claiming 19 victims in the past 33 days.

Camps in the jungles will help minimise the time the forces take to respond to tip-offs on Maoist movement, an officer said. “The camps are all located in villages now and the rebels come to know whenever we set out for a raid. By the time we reach a hideout, the guerrillas are gone,” he added.

Sources said the meeting decided to split the forests into zones with at least two camps in each.

“We have to penetrate deep inside them and be relentless in our raids. Earlier, we had to start from a village (camp), enter the forest and return to the village at night,” an officer said.

At the meeting, Sen stressed the need to build a local intelligence network. It has collapsed because of the Maoists’ clout among villagers.

The home secretary admitted later that Maoists guerrillas were moving about freely with guns in areas where the jawans were absent. “They are chasing the Maoists whenever they are getting any information,” he said.

However, no top Maoist has been held during the operation and the government admitted last week that its mission had failed beyond a point.

Sen said the central forces would be in the region at least till September 4. “After that, we will again request the Centre so the forces can stay.”