‘Operation Prahar' explained: 5 things to know about the anti-Naxal op in Bastar

Operation Prahar's primary focus is the Bastar region in Chhattisgarh

Security personnel during an operation at a Maoist-hit area, ahead of the Lok Sabha elections | PTI Security personnel during an operation at a Maoist-hit area, ahead of the Lok Sabha elections | PTI

On April 16, 2024, only days before the first phase Lok Sabha elections, the Haptola forest in the Kanker region of Chhattisgarh became a battleground with the security forces taking on Naxal fighters. ‘Operation Prahar’ resulted in 29 Maoists getting eliminated, the Bastar police claimed, adding that top Maoist commanders carrying cash rewards on their heads were among the killed.

Later, Union Home Minister Amit Shah congratulated all the security forces involved in this operation and claimed that India would soon be a Naxal-free country. According to the reports of 2020, over 3000 jawans of both the central and state forces, 222 politicians, and 1100 police informants met with their deaths at the hands of Naxals. The 2010 attack in the Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh is said to be the worst-ever attack on the forces, resulting in the deaths of 76 CRPF and state police officers.

Who are the Naxals?

Deriving its name from the Naxalbari village of West Bengal, Naxals or Naxalites are members of the Communist Party of India-Maoists (CPI-Maoist), classified under the banned LWE (Left Wing Extremism) groups.

The People's Liberation Guerrilla Army (PLGA) is also an organisation of CPI-Maoist militants formed in 2001. They have launched many lethal attacks on the security forces of Chhattisgarh and other states afflicted by Naxalism. Their clashes with the security forces began in 2001.

Here are five things that you need to know about ‘Operation Prahar’ which is now at the heart of India's counter-Naxal plans.

    1. Launched in 2017, ‘Operation Prahar’ is a collaborative mission of the CRPF and Chattisgarh Police against the threats posed by the Naxalites. 

    2. While 'Operation Prahar' is a police mission against criminal activities, illegal liquor sales and other unlawful elements in many parts, it is the action against the Naxal groups in states including Chhattisgarh, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra.

    3. With a primary focus on the Bastar region in Chhattisgarh, its objective is to remove the extremists from their hideouts. According to reports, over 79 Naxals have been neutralized since the start of 2024 in different encounters. Explosives were recovered from different operations that took place over the years and several soldiers were killed in action while being part of the operations.

    4. ‘Operation Prahar’ has received criticism for inadequate operation planning and coordination among different forces despite its success in neutralising the Naxalites. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi stated that the operation was poorly designed and executed incompetently.

    5. In addition to ‘Operation Prahar', the government has launched numerous other operations to eliminate the Naxals. Some notable operations include ‘Operation Green Hunt’, ‘Operation Hill Vijay’, ‘Operation Samadhan-Prahar' and ‘Operation Thunder’.

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