New Delhi: Just 72 hours before Maharashtra goes to the polls the Chief Minister of the state, Ashok Chavan, has said its going to be an all-out war against the Naxals.
"It's almost a war against Naxals. This latest incident we won't make us give up against them," said Chavan while reacting to the killing of 17 police commandos by Naxals on Thursday in Gadchiroli district.
A funeral with full state honours was organised for 17 police commandos, and a suspected police informer, who was beheaded by Naxals in Gadchiroli district on Wednesday night in a clear sign that it no more just a mere fight against the Naxals.
Now questions are being asked whether reinforcements came in a little too late in Gadchiroli when the police force was engaged in a fierce gunbattle with more than 200 Naxals.
A survivor of the Gadchiroli massacre, Constable Umess Alam, claimed that faster police reinforcements could have saved the lives of many policemen.
"(If) the reinforcement had reached on time then there would have been fewer casualties. We were fighting this battle all alone for a long time," said Constable Alam.
It was a four-hour long encounter and before heading out, the C-60 commando team had specifically called for reinforcements including a helicopter.
But the helicopter that is always on standby was not available when it was needed most and when one was arranged, it was too late.
The Gadchiroli encounter has also exposed the police force.
In Gadchiroli alone, over 30 police sub inspector posts are lying vacant as those who get posted manage to get transferred.
To tackle the Naxal threat, the state government created a new post of DIG and an SP making the force top heavy, instead of increasing the number of foot soldiers
So it's the lack of operational field officers that has been working in the favour of the Naxals who initially lure the police party by choosing softer targets and then ambush the force by significantly outnumbering them.
Experts feel that adding more teeth to the operational force will greatly help the state government in tackling the Naxal menace.
(With inputs from Prashant Koratkar)