Operation Octopus still on after fall of Naxal bastion of 'Burha Pahar' in September
Ranchi: 'Operation Octopus' is still continuing to dig out explosives and hidden arms and ammunition from the densely forested hilly range of the Naxal bastion of 'Burha Pahar' -- a mountain range spread over 55 square kms touching three districts of Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh -- which was captured by security forces in September this year.
'Burha Pahar', which touches Chhattisgarh's Balrampur and Latehar as well as Jharkhand's Garhwa districts, was captured in a joint operation of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) general duty battalions, its Naxal specialised wing CoBRA, Jharkhand Police and Jharkhand Jaguar-- a special force of Jharkhand Police. Once known for the Naxal operation base led by the dreaded Naxal Arvind Ji, a Core Committee Member of Naxals who died in 2018, 'Burha Pahar' had been an impregnable Naxal bastion for 32 years.
A total of 646 Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), 18 factory-made regular arms including one light machine gun, 1,588 ammunition, 22 magazines, one grenade launcher, 85 grenades, 200 grenade arming rings, 78 pressure cooker IEDs and arrow bombs, Insas Rifles, Carbines, SLR Rifles, LMG with bipod are among several other items have been recovered since the 'Operation Octopus' was launched. These recoveries were made between September 5 and September 24.
Explaining operational details of 'Operation Octopus' Inspector General of Jharkhand Sector CRPF Amit Kumar, IPS, who played a key role in the plan, told ANI: "Burha Pahar stretch across 3 districts along Jharkhand and Chattisgarh border. It was a stronghold of the Naxals. 'Operation Octopus' was launched in two phases. The first phase was held in August when security personnel toured Naxal hideout spots.
"The second phase was held in September where four camps were established in the region. Our forces are sanitising the area. Arms and ammunition of Naxals are being recovered. A total of 646 Nos IEDs has been recovered so far from the region between September 5 to September 24."
Mentioning that "our teams are in a dominant position in the region", Kumar said, "The operation will continue until and unless we completely dismantle Naxal infrastructure in the region."
The officer said, "Jharkhand is on the way to becoming Naxal-free". "Main strongholds Burha Pahar, trijunction of Chaibasa, Khunti and Saraikela and Parasnath Mountain are in our control. Another concentration left in Chaibasa, we will take control of it in the next 1-2 months."
He further said as security forces build camps in the Naxal-affected areas, development works to usher in the region. "Roads are built, electricity supply comes into the region and normal business activities are initiated."
"People in Naxal-affected areas now benefit from health and education facilities and welfare schemes. These regions didn't have the basic infrastructure for the last four decades," Kumar added.
The hilly forested terrain Burha Pahar was used as a corridor by the Naxals till the success of 'Operation Octopus". Security forces also made earlier attempts but success was not achieved. In 2018, six security personnel lost their lives in a major operation.
Asked about known Naxals in the region, an officer said Saurabh alias Markus baba, Naveen Yadav and Santu Bhuiyan- all carrying bounty between Rs 10 lakh to Rs 20 lakh -- are active in the region.
CRPF's 203 CoBRA battalion, 205 CoBRA Batallion, its regular Battalions (172, 218 and 62), and state police forces like Jharkhand Jaguar are still engaged in the operation since the beginning. (ANI)