When the monsoon-induced foliage cover start to wither away in the tribal land of Central India by the fag-end of September, the BJP-led NDA government will likely give a go ahead to a major operation against Maoists.
Six Israeli Herons will start tracking the movement of the red rebels, give feedback to the central paramilitary forces, who along with state police of four states, are expected to launch massive operations against the Maoists. The four states are Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha and Maharashtra.
Senior sources in paramilitary forces said they have been given a go ahead from the Central government, which is keen to free large tracts of territories from the control of Maoists. The operation will be conducted under the guidance of former director general of CRPF, K Vijay Kumar, now an advisor to the union home ministry.
To overwhelm Maoists with superior numbers, the union home ministry has already sanctioned 10 additional battalions for the main battleground of Bastar, raising the total number of battalions to 39 — nearly 37,000 troops. Bastar is strategically important because of its location at the junction of the newly carved state of Telangana in the south, Maharashtra in the west and Odisha in the north.
The home ministry is trying to make available helicopters to the forces for quick deployment and evacuation. The reluctance of IAF to provide its helicopters has been a major factor for the forces to remain on ground even when they have full information of launch operations, sources said.
However, the Centre has some doubts about the success of the operations because of Telangana. Latest intelligence inputs suggest that Maoists can take the advantage of a fragile Telangana, which is already in turmoil, and find safe haven there.
The inputs state Maoists, who participated with much gusto in the Telangana state movement, can lead to top and middle rung leadership of the CPI (Maoist) as well as its cadre slipping into the new state to save themselves from the onslaught of security forces.
"Among other reasons, it is also the worry of Maoists finding a safe haven in fragile Telangana that prompted the Centre to issue a letter to the Telangana chief secretary Rajeev Sharma directing to transfer powers of maintaining law and order in Hyderabad to the governor," a source said.
Centre's worry vindicates Sri Krishna panel's report on the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh that it had given separately in a sealed cover to the Centre.
The secret report had warned that "the new state is likely to be soft towards them initially. By the time they (new state) realise the Maoists menace, it may be too late to handle them with a bifurcated police force, contributing to a weaker response to the problem."
"It is likely that the Maoists will extend their activities from these neighbouring states (Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra) to Telangana, especially in the districts of Adilabad, Karimnagar, Warangal, Khammam, parts of Nizamabad and Medak in north Telangana and Mahboobnagar and Nalgonda in south Telangana," it says. The report adds that slowing of economic activity will drive the poor into the arms of extremists.
This is something for which the Centre does not have any answer and may have to contend with smaller successes despite launching big operations, a senior official conceded.