Police taking on India’s Maoists can’t shoot straight?
The killing of 76 police by Maoist rebels earlier this month in central India did not come as a big surprise to experts who know most of the forces that are deployed in the dense jungles are hardly trained in jungle warfare.
Most of them undergo a short training course before engaging the rebels in inhospitable terrain is thrust upon their shoulders.
More than 1,000 fighters, armed with sophisticated weapons, ambushed the central police in insurgency-hit Chhattisgarh state, exposing a lack of intelligence and planning by forces who were totally unfamiliar with the rebel territory.
Only eight Maoists were killed in retaliatory fire, as most bullets hit trees instead of the rebels behind the forest cover.
Within days, Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram offered to resign taking full responsibility for the deaths, but will simply owning up help India’s fight against the Maoists at all?
Indian newspapers have carried front-page stories on the government’s failure to tackle the decades-old insurgency that began with a peasant’s movement in 1967 and has now spread to 22 out of 28 states.
In a knee-jerk reaction, like in most cases, authorities directed police to sharpen their skills in shooting ranges this week, and the findings have embarrassed most officials.
More than 30 percent police officers could not shoot straight in the Maoist-hit eastern state of Jharkhand from 100 yards (90 metres).
Shooting practices carried out in other states have thrown up similar dampening results.
Police officers from Maoist-hit areas were also seen telling television channel reporters that apart from lack of shooting practice, they do not have adequate food, water or medicines in makeshift camps in insurgency-hit areas.
Isn’t it time India addressed these issues before asking their police to take on the insurgents in their territory?