CRPF finally enters Abujmaad after 1947
Armed with modern gadgets, over 3,000 men from CRPF and its elite strike unit-CoBRA, the para-military forces and state police-combed the forests spread over 4,000 sq km and joining neighbouring states of Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra during the month that just ended.
Codenamed-"Maad", "Kilam" and "Podku"-the operation was monitored by CRPF Director General K Vijay Kumar and his Inspector General (Operation) in Chhattisgarh, Pankaj Singh, who decided on the plans to make forays in the jungles.
Armed with a British-era survey of the jungle, they decided that the men will enter from three sides – Narayanpur- Gadchiroli (Maad) with point of contact at Jatwar in the heart of the jungle, Bhairamgarh-Matwara (Podku) and Mardapal- Chotedonger (Kilam).
"In all, the operations which comprised CRPF officers, CoBRA and some state police -a total of about 3000 personnel- their movements were monitored round-the-clock at make-shift headquarters," says 49-year-old Singh after the successful operation in which over 33 Maoists were arrested.
"It was anxious moments from the word go when the operation began on March 5 and continued till March 20. The Maoists had the advantage of the terrain and we were in a land that had never been visited so far," recalled the senior police official.
Another daunting task was to capture the Maoists without any trouble to tribals. "We took the help of state police which provided us with personnel having the knowledge of Gondi and Halbi, the local language," he said.
Thirty-three Maoists were arrested and arms and ammunition were recovered in large quantity. Among those arrested were those who were involved in the killing of CRPF or policemen way back in 2003 and 2004, said another senior official.
The British-era survey map taken from ASI was only partially correct with some of the villages mentioned in it either non-existent or not at the place dotted on the map, the officials said.
Huge solar panels and computer printers were among the surprise recoveries from the hideouts used for preparing Maoists literature. A facility for manufacturing rocket launchers with research and development units was another surprise for the security forces.
The area had been a big bother for the anti-Naxal forces as there was not a single map available with the state government for them to plan their operations, said officials engaged in the operations and strategy. The forces had to re-work their strategy many a time in the absence of authentic information.
No police personnel had dared to cross river Indravati as the Maoists had mined all the approaches. The police and public in adjoining districts of this forest refer to the area as restricted where a "visa" was required from Maoists.
The forests, inhabited by Abujhmaadiya tribals, was also used by Maoists for smuggling of of teak and sheesham wood besides mahua flowers, used for making country-made liquor.