Security Issues

Analysis of the Maoist Attack and Next Steps

The Maoist attack on District Reserve Guard (DRG) personnel and a civilian driver in Dantewada, Chhattisgarh, on April 26 emphasises the necessity for a comprehensive approach to combating the insurgency. Despite claims of a diminished Maoist movement, the incident demonstrates that they are still capable of striking at will.

DRG (District Reserve Guards)

  • District Reserve Guards (DRG) are elite police units in several Indian states, particularly Chhattisgarh, that are trained and equipped to battle Naxalite and Maoist insurgencies.
  • DRG troops are often selected from local tribal tribes and are well-versed in the local terrain, making them adept in combatting the insurgency.
  • They receive specialised instruction in guerrilla warfare, jungle warfare, and modern weaponry use.
  • The DRG is frequently at the vanguard of anti-Naxalite operations and is seen as a critical component of the Indian government’s efforts to combat the country’s Maoist insurgency.

The potential of Maoists to strike at will

  • Maoist Central Committee strategic planning: A strike like the one on April 26 cannot be the brainchild of a local Maoist unit; it is far more likely that this was a trap set by the Maoist Central Committee, demonstrating the Maoists’ continued hierarchy.
  • Attack timetable: During the tactical counter-offensive campaign, which runs from February to June each year, the Maoists carry out the most attacks on security troops. Six significant strikes were carried out in April alone in Chhattisgarh (2010-2023), establishing a pattern that should provide the government with adequate leads to organise its strategy.
  • Standard operating procedures and protocols were flagrantly violated: During the regrettable strike on April 26, standard operating procedures and protocols were flagrantly violated. During the months of the tactical counter-offensive campaign, security forces must be extra cautious by strictly sticking to regular operating procedures and standards.

Difficulties linked with hiring local tribe youngsters for the DRG

  • False impression of control: When local tribal youth are armed, they frequently feel a false sense of empowerment, which can lead to feuds with Maoists. This is because they are familiar with the Maoist ecosystem and may harbour anger for them.
  • Network of intelligence: During the April 26 event, the DRG’s intelligence network was surpassed by the Maoists. This emphasises the importance of increased training and assistance for local tribal youngsters employed by the DRG.
  • Ad hoc planning: The DRG staff appear to have acted independently in this case, showing their ad hoc planning. This underscores the necessity for the state police to improve coordination and control over the DRG.
  • Discipline: While the DRG’s battle worthiness is undeniable, it lacks the rigour of discipline, which is an essential trait for troops in any long-term counter-insurgency fight. The DRG’s track record on discipline is not promising, with numerous cadres cashiered on disciplinary grounds and some found to be involved in criminal activity. This underlines the need for improved training and support to ensure that DRG personnel are properly disciplined and held accountable for their actions.

Way forward: Long-term solutions

  • Effective Policing: A robust state police force is responsible for effective policing in insurgency-affected areas. It is widely accepted that central police forces should augment rather than replace state police.
  • Vacancies in the State Police Force: According to Bureau of Police Research and Development data, there are numerous vacancies in the State police forces. Central troops would achieve little more than random and misguided killings until the State police were comprehensively transformed.
  • Control of Local Tribal youngsters: The State police should use local tribal youngsters for the DRG in a controlled manner. Security should not be delegated to them.
  • DRG Personnel Discipline: The DRG’s combat worthiness is undeniable, but it is not matched by rigour in discipline. This is an essential trait for troops in any long-term counter-insurgency battle. The DRG’s track record in terms of discipline is not promising.
  • Deeper reflection on tribal people’s unhappiness and dispossession: The incident begs for a deeper meditation on the discontent and dispossession of central India’s tribal people, who are the most disadvantaged of citizens in every way.
  • Perception management: The government must devote sufficient attention to perception management. The administration should emphasise that substantial road construction projects in Bastar will benefit the local population rather than simply increasing the security forces’ reach.
  • Weaken Maoist ideology: The emptiness of Maoist philosophy in present times is not being effectively revealed in order to weaken the insurgency. Security is unquestionably important, but the focus should extend beyond security and development.

@the end

The Dantewada attack emphasises the need for a complete approach to combating the insurgency, including a tactical counter-offensive operation, powerful state police forces, and the regulated use of DRG soldiers. The administration should concentrate on tackling the core causes of the insurgency, managing perceptions, and exposing the folly of Maoist philosophy.

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