Even this much information is adequate to expose the fatal professional mistakes in the planning of the operation. First, when such a large number of men are inserted into the jungle, so many preparatory movements of vehicles etc are required that their insertion cannot remain a secret. Contrary to popular perceptions harboured by most urban people, the jungle is not as uninhabited as they think.
It has happened almost every time in the past that information regarding troops’ presence or movement in the jungle is leaked by the Naxals’ local informants. On the other hand, it has almost never happened that locals come forward to give information about the Naxals’ presence and movement.
As the papers Chhattisgarh Vaibhav and Dainik Bhaskar have rightly pointed out, three very senior officers from Delhi have had been camping in the area for three weeks for this operation. It is natural that they must be held responsible for the poor and faulty planning.
Inserting such a large number of men simultaneously was a blunder. It also means that the so-called operational planning was essentially a semantic exercise of grandiose objectives sans any tactical knowledge of the complexities of jungle combat.
- Intelligence Failure or Zero Intelligence?
Second, the very fact that the men of the forces were taken by surprise, proves that the leadership/planners had no intelligence worth its name about the Naxals, their numbers, and weaponry, not to speak of their likely planning. This means that it was not just an intelligence failure; they blundered into an operation without any intelligence worth its name, which is criminal as it cost valuable lives.
Moreover, in their attempt to conceal their rank incompetence; they have mesmerized and fooled the government by overselling ‘technological silver bullets’ to a problem, which is a complex mix of social-economic-political and military problems.
That is how, as Chhattisgarh Vaibhav also pointed out, they have been pretending to depend heavily on UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles)/small drones to the utter neglect of human intelligence. UAVs could be used in Afghanistan because there are no jungles there. Here, their optical cameras cannot see anything under the cover of a tree canopy.
- Fatal Megalomania of the Police Leadership
Why have they been persisting with their follies, year after year since 2010, when they had lost 76 men in one incident?
The reason is that for many officers ‘close to the powers that be’, the so-called operations are the result of their megalomania and their obsessive desire to please their equally megalomaniac masters that they would finish off Naxals and Naxalism in one single ‘masterstroke’. The sub-culture of ‘masterstrokes’ in the country that we have been talking about lately is not really a new thing. They have been selling such unrealistic dreams and plans since long.
The same megalomaniacs in the police leadership have been selling the myth of the so-called ‘small-team operations’ a la the Tamil film Peranmai (2009) or its Hindi-dubbed version ‘Kasam Hindustan Ki’. Essentially, they dream that a couple of super commandos would sneak into the jungles and kill a whole bunch of Naxals.
Various schemes of eliminating the Naxals have also been sold to the political leadership. These include aerial bombing or strafing; setting fire to the jungles; planting wireless ‘bugs’ in every Adivasi household; following the ‘Gadhchiroli model’ or the ‘Andhra model’; covert operations; better coordination, liaison and synergy amongst various forces; and ‘eyes in the sky’, etc. The outcomes have not been encouraging.
- No SOPs; No Real Enquiries
Internal or external inquiries under any government, which are held into such disasters, are essentially hogwash to complete a formality and silence the opposition by telling them that an inquiry has been ordered.
In any case, the reports of such ‘face-saving’ inquiries are also never made available to the junior and middle-level officers.
Inquiry reports prepared after major incidents are closely guarded secrets as their basic purpose is to save the favourites and find some scapegoat for punishment.
It has been observed since long that the nexus of the police leadership and their masters in the government go out of the way to hush things up so that the guilty IPS officers are saved and eventually the blame is passed on to the poor men for not having followed the mythical, non-existent SOP (Standard Operating Procedure).
Fact is no SOP of any kind exists anywhere. In fact, there should not be a SOP because every situation is different and there cannot be a one-size-fits-all type of response.