The March 21, 2020, Naxal attack on the security forces in Chhattisgarh’s Sukma district, killing 17 personnel and injuring 15 others, after a long time highlights a critical shift in the ideological moorings of the CPI (Maoist). Arguably, a critical factor leading to such a tactical change in the Maoists’ approach can be attributed to the new leadership under Namballa Keshava Rao, alias Basavaraj.
Considering the involvement of the District Reserve Guard (DRG), Special Task Force (STF) and the elite Commando Battalion for Resolute Action (CoBRA) of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) in a joint operation against the Maoists, the Maoists carried out the attack with surgical precision. It is important to mention that Sukma district continues to be a hotbed of Maoist activities as it accounts for 25 Maoist-related deaths so far in 2020. At a time when the State has been claiming the Maoist violent movement is on a terminal decline in terms of its diminishing activities and reducing number of recruits, the Sukma attack, the audacious acts against the elite security forces, warrants revisiting the Maoist movement. Also, as the Maoists are supposedly losing their support base substantially and are allegedly limited to a few pockets, the high-level attack confirms a tactical shift in the Maoist strategy.
In the last two years, especially since Basavaraj took over as CPI (Maoist) general secretary following the resignation of Muppala Lakshmana Rao, alias Ganapathy, as Maoist chief in September 2018, there has been a major tactical shift in the Maoist activities. Under the leadership of Basavaraj, who was also the chief of Maoists’ Central Military Commission (CMC) prior to his elevation as chief, the Maoists are carrying out “spectacular” attacks, choosing elite commandos and high-profile political leaders, to scotch government claims that the Maoist movement is on its last legs. Ever since Basavaraj has taken over the leadership, the Maoists have carried out four major attacks in the last two years. On May 1, 2019, the Maoists killed 15 personnel belonging to the commandos of the C-60 force of the Maharashtra Police and a civilian with an improvised explosive device (IED) in Gadchiroli district. Preceding the incident, the ultras had torched 26 vehicles used for construction work at the National Highway-136 site to lure the security forces in their trap. Earlier on April 9, 2019, the Maoists attacked the convoy of Chhattisgarh BJP MLA Bhima Mandavi, killing the MLA and two others just before the first phase of the general election. A critical commonality among all the above-mentioned attacks is the surgical precision in which they were carried out.
The surgical precision of these attacks is stressed as the Maoists are believed to be in a Tactical Counter Offensive Campaign (TCOC) under the new leadership of Basavaraj. As the Maoist activities have been largely contained, the new leadership aims to revive the strength and reclaim the areas through militant activities. Considering his experience as the chief of the Central Military Commission of the CPI (Maoist), Basavaraj believes in instilling fear through the attacks, especially against the state machinery and leaders. This is a critical shift in the ideological framework that instils new tactics into the new recruits and legitimize the “revolutionary causes” via violent activities.
When it comes to carrying out guerrilla attacks, the Maoists seem to have an edge over the security forces. The important motives of the Maoists behind killing the security personnel in large numbers are to highlight the vulnerability of the state and to boost the morale of its cadre.
Source : https://www.dailypioneer.com/2020/sunday-edition/maoist-mayhem-under-new-leadership.html