'Planned last month, ambush done by 2 local Maoist units'

Jiram valley selected for attack purely due to strategic reasons as it is suitable for guerrilla warfare, say police, intelligence sources

dinesh-akula

Dinesh Akula | May 27, 2013


Security personnel remove the dead from the spot: There is no cellphone connectivity one kilometre on either side of the area where the ambush took place.
Security personnel remove the dead from the spot: There is no cellphone connectivity one kilometre on either side of the area where the ambush took place.

Over 48 hours after one of the biggest Maoist attacks in Chhattisgarh's tribal area claimed 24 lives and left several others injured at Jiram valley near Darbha, intelligence sources on Saturday claimed it was a joint operation of Kerlapal area committee and Darbha divisional committee of the ultra-Left operatives.

According to highly placed sources in Chhattisgarh police, the ambush on the convoy of Congress leaders and workers was planned a month ago and the two committees were selected for the joint operation following success in similar attacks on the administrative machinery in recent times.

No local committee of Maoists have however yet claimed responsibility for the attack, and neither have the police officially named any group.

Also read: 11th-hour change in route led to Maoist ambush?

Sources in the intelligence wing of the state police said the Kerlapal area committee and Darbha divisional committee conducted a joint operation last year and kidnapped  the collector of Sukma district, Alex Paul Menon. They released Menon after 12 days.  This success, sources asserted, made senior Maoist leaders hand over responsibility of Saturday’s ambush to these two committees.

According to sources, Saturday’s operation was headed by Darbha divisional committee commander Vinod and Kerlapal area committee leader Deva, along with two other operatives named Baru and Hunga, were also present. Vinod was the former commander in Malangir area committee, with jurisdiction over Kirandul, stretching from Bacheli to Katekalyan border.

The planning and strategy of the operation was reportedly chalked out at a location on Odisha border sometime in April this year. Southern regional area committee secretary Ganesh Uikey and senior Maoist leaders Ramana and Surendra led the strategising.

Sympathisers and experts in Maoist operations said such a massive operation could not have been conducted without clearance from the central committee.

Sources said Maoists planned the attack in May since it is peak summer, adding that a platoon of insurgents was active in Darbha and Jiram valley since April. Villagers also confirmed about the movement and added that many new faces were seen in the group. Besides the main meeting on Odisha border many short and emergency meetings were held in the dense forests of Kolenga, Machkot and Darbha villages, it is learnt.

Jiram valley was also selected for the attack purely because of strategic reasons. Suitable for guerrilla warfare, one side of the valley has deep forests while it is flanked by a ditch on the other. While the road has many turns, the entire forest has a dense foliage of teak, sal and bamboo.

There is no cellphone connectivity one kilometre on either side of the area where the ambush took place. The Maoists understandably studied all these factors before zeroing in on the area of attack.

Maoists became active in Darbha area only about four years ago, when they formed the Kanger valley area committee. After studying the area for a year they launched their first attack in 2010 on Kolenga forest office and damaged it to register their presence.

A year later, in September 2011, the ultra-Left insurgents attacked a national sanctuary rest house at Netanar, in Kanker valley, and killed the Darbha police station in-charge and six jawans. They were later involved in several attacks in Gudiya and Tolawar villages.

As recently as May 11, a group of Maoists attacked the Doordarshan tower at Marenga and killed three security persons and injured one.

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