It is extremely tragic that, every now and then, the Naxalites and Maoists manage to kill an unacceptably large number of security personnel in the few areas that still provide them safe haven. It has been rare even in a heavily attacked theatre of anti-national activity such as J&K to witness such a heavy toll. The killing of 17 men of the ‘District Reserve Guards’ and STF in Sukma District of Chhattisgarh is a reminder that the Maoist menace has by no means been overcome. There have been repeated attacks in this area over the years and, yet, no solution has been found to eliminate the menace.
There remains in place a support structure for the Maoists comprising ideological motivation, financial inflow and an established modus operandi to obtain weapons. There is a lot of international support from multiple forces inimical to national interests, each of which benefits in some way from the unrest. This nexus is becoming ever more visible overground in the larger political context, but the political establishment has got used to pussyfooting around the problem for a variety of reasons. The overly idealistic interventions by the courts in the name of ‘human rights’ have resulted only in hobbling the security response to the terror threat. As a result, not only do the men in uniform suffer losses, the people of these areas are also denied the benefits of modern education, health facilities and livelihood opportunities. The lack of law and order also increases the corruption and venality of the lower echelons of the administration. The situation is made worse by the cynical politicians who look only for votes and fail to support the larger cause of public well-being.
Although the union and state governments over time have attempted to provide equipment, training and technological back-up to the forces, it is obvious that the tactical leadership on the ground is poor. Just as there are the urban naxals working on behalf of the anti-national elements, there should be strategic back-up provided by a think-tank of domain specialists to the forces of law and order. Science and Technology should be used in a big way as a force multiplier – helicopters, thermal imaging, high quality bullet proof jackets and helmets, et al, should be made available to thwart such ambushes. It is clear that input from intelligence agencies is poor. A good network of informers would ensure ambushes would be difficult to stage. Psychological warfare by creating divisions and doubts within the enemy, whose leadership comprises mostly egoistic and paranoid psychopaths, is also an essential component. Going by the present scenario, it would seem that the local commanders have been left to their own devices and whatever successes there have been are in spite of government failures in preparing them for the fight.