A top Indian terrorism expert has said if Sri Lanka could defeat the LTTE after years of conflict then so can India in its fight against the Maoists rebels, the Tribune reported.Chhattisgarh’s top terrorism expert Brigadier (retd) BK Ponwar has said that despite a recent deadly attack by the Maoists on an Indian police team there is hope the terrorists can be defeated
According to the Tribune the recent defeat of the LTTE in Sri Lanka after a 30-year conflict has raised his hopes. “If Colombo can do it, we can also do it…the Bastar jungles are not that difficult,” he said.
Ponwar is heading Chhattisgarh’s first Counter-Terrorism and Jungle Warfare College in north Bastar, 145 km from state capital Raipur. At least, 39 policemen, including the Superintendent of Police Vinod Kumar Choubey, were killed in a gruesome guerrilla attack by the Maoists (commonly called Naxalites) in Rajnandgaon district on July 12.
Maoists have become more offensive in Chhattisgarh as the state police recently breached the “Red Corridor” in its two northern districts, Sarguja and Jashpur, flushing out ‘red rebels’ from there. The “Red Corridor” runs through the dense forest belt from the Nepal border to Andhra Pradesh.
“If one does not follow traffic rules while driving, it may lead to an accident,” said Ponwar emphasising that “similarly, if the police will not follow the basics of jungle warfare, they will continue to meet the same fate as they did on Sunday (July 12)…the policemen had just walked into a booby trap”.
The incident had witnessed the highest-ever casualty that the security forces had suffered in a single day in the three-decade history of Naxal violence in Chhattisgarh. The tragedy has shaken up the police.
Indian Maoists threaten to kill Singh, Sonia
India’s Maoist guerrillas on Tuesday threatened to kill the country’s prime minister and ruling party leader in what analysts said was the most aggressive threat yet from an increasingly lethal and widespread insurgency.
The warning comes a month after the government listed the Communist Party of India (Maoists) as a terrorist group, and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh declared them India’s largest internal security threat.
The Maoists targeted Singh and Congress party president Sonia Gandhi, and invoked the memory of the 1991 assassination of her husband, former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, in a suicide blast blamed on Sri Lanka’s now-defeated Tamil Tiger rebels.
“Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh have dared to ban the Maoists, little realizing that they would meet the fate of Rajiv Gandhi, who was killed by the LTTE (Liberation of Tamil Tigers Eelam),” a Maoist statement released in Hindi says.
India blamed the LTTE for killing Gandhi as revenge after a 1987-1990 Indian peacekeeping mission to Sri Lanka turned sour.
The statement, issued in the eastern state of Jharkand, also gave local Congress leaders a week to resign or “be taught a lesson.” Jharkand police and Congress officials said they were taking the threat seriously, while Singh’s office had no comment.
Sri Lanka crushed the LTTE in May after a 25-year war, in which the separatists had proved themselves ruthlessly efficient at killing politicians, police and other government officials to inspire fear, a tactic analysts say the Maoists have adopted.
“It is the boldest statement ever issued by them,” said Colonel R. Hariharan, a Chennai-based security analyst who led military intelligence during India’s peacekeeping mission to Sri Lanka.
“They are trying to assert themselves and becoming bolder and bolder and trying to get more visibility,” he said.
Hariharan said the Maoists used to get logistical support and explosives training from the LTTE.
The Maoists have increasingly spread out of their rural eastern strongholds and are active in nearly a third of the country’s 630 districts, up from a presence in less than a tenth of them in 2001, government and independent data shows.
They carry out hit-and-run attacks on police and extort money from businesses. In the mining state of Chhattisgarh, officials say they extort up to $60 million a year.
Earlier this month, Maoists ambushed and killed at least 29 police officers on patrol in the jungles, and counterinsurgency experts say police officers tackling the Maoists lack the proper training and equipment to be effective.