‘Idle arms’ reach Bengal Maoists

Guwahati, Oct. 26: The Centre has alerted some of the northeastern states about flow of arms through and from the region to Maoists, particularly in neighbouring Bengal, and asked the security apparatus to mount a vigil to break the supply chain.

A source today said intelligence feedback indicated that arms were reaching the Maoists from the Northeast. “It is a trickle now, but if not checked immediately, the volume can grow in future,” a source said.

Apart from the region being strategically placed for arms movement from Myanmar, particularly through Mizoram and Manipur, there was also a sizeable quantity of “idle arms” available in these parts, the source said.

According to him, the surrendering militant outfits are not declaring all their weapons. “While they hold back some, rest are even sold to those who require these weapons. And at the moment, the Maoists are the nearest customers,” he said.

The source said the Maoists were in need of sophisticated weapons given the large areas covering several states in which they are operating and would tap every possible source for it.

“They (Maoists) are now looking for more lethal weapons like the AK series rifles, grenades and rocket launchers, besides hand guns, which are available in the Northeast and some of which are lying idle with surrendering militant groups in the region. They (the Maoists) are at present banking mainly on SLRs and .303 rifles, some of which were looted from police armouries. The shortage of modern weapons is, however, made up by the large number of cadres the Maoists can deploy for carrying out raids — at times several hundred of them take part in these operations together. The sheer number is intimidating,” he said.

The Maoists, however, will find it increasingly difficult to carry out raids with such large number of cadres once security forces dominate the areas.

“They (the Maoists) would then be more easily noticed and tackled. They will have to resort to classic guerrilla operations with smaller bands of cadres, but with more sophisticated weapons,” the source said. He said apart from firearms, the Maoists were also surveying the markets for explosives like RDX, which are available with Northeast militant groups.

“The explosions the Maoists carry out now through remote-controlled IEDs in the rural areas targeting security forces are not RDX-based. But once they move into more urban areas where planting remote-controlled IEDs or land mines is difficult, they will require explosives which cause greater damage from smaller quantities,” he said.