Durga did it
Another important functional aspect was that the Greyhounds did not report to or work under the district police set up. The Greyhound Units reported to the Special DIG HQ in-charge for that Maoist affected region, overlapping- several adjacent districts. Their operations were supplemented by adequate Technical Intelligence Teams working under this Special DIG HQ, which could intercept any wireless transmission made by the Maoists and do the Direction Finding Fix.
With the advent of cellular phones, they also specialised in tracking down Maoist locations using fixes made from two or more cell phone towers. This enhanced the accuracy of directed response, and reduced the time lag for the Greyhound patrol teams to make active contact with the Maoist Dalams. The credit for developing the Greyhoundsâ organisation, selection, training and successful tactics primarily goes to their then IG Dr Durga Prasad, who could out-think and outwit the well entrenched Maoists and also keep progressively adapting.
The sustained campaign carried out by the Andhra Pradesh State Police during 2005 to clear the Nallamalla Hills region in the heart of Andhra Pradesh encompassing the adjacent forested areas of Kurnool, Prakasam, and Kadapa districts is a classic success story in counter insurgency operations in India, worth being emulated by even the Indian Army in J&K. The Maoist Dalams were well embedded in this region for over 15 years and nobody from the government dared to go into these areas.
Four Greyhound Units working under a single Special DIG HQ established 13 JOBs covering the mountainous and forested terrain of approximately 5000 sq km. This works out to an area coverage of approximately 400 sq km per JOB at the peak of operations. The Maoists reacted very violently with great stealth, IED blasts, assassination of locals, and planned ambushes. But within a matter of six months, the weekly attrition rates started taking their toll and their cadres got demoralized, as they had to keep running in the jungles constantly without getting shelter and sufficient help from the habitated areas.
The Greyhounds went on improving in their tactics and morale. Their losses were few and were immediately replaced in both men and equipment. After a year's time there were no more Maoists left in this area and they were forced to give up this legendary bastion. Thereafter, the Greyhounds strength there was reduced to one half of the original deployment.
After the period of active operations was over, the Greyhounds deployment in the JOBs was never brought down to below Company strength for very sound operational and functional reasons, and the Maoists have so far not ventured to come back into this erstwhile 'liberated' zone. The relieved Greyhound Units have been redeployed onto the other Maoist affected interstate border areas, where they have repeated their operational successes and driven the Maoists out of AP. The neighbouring States then started requesting the Greyhounds to operate across the border.
The lesson learnt is that there is no armed insurgency in India which cannot be put down within two years, if the right proportion of forces differential is created and sustained locally for at least a period of six months. After wiping out the insurgents in a particular area, 50 per cent of the Security Forces can be redeployed to another area to create the right Forces differential there.
The French treatise 'Pacification Operations in Algeria' written in 1963 by Col David Galuta clearly summarised counterinsurgency as "80 per cent protection of the civil population by cutting down 'unrisky access' to them by the insurgents, and the balance 20 per cent of the effort to be directed in maintaining a steady and sustained attrition rate - on weekly and monthly basis."
At no cost should the first cleared target region be left totally denuded of Security Forces deployment, otherwise within a matter of a few months, insurgency conditions will be back to previous levels, and the hard won gains would have soon got frittered away.
Image: Greyhound elite policemen shout slogans against Maoists during a funeral procession for Inspector M. Durgaprasad in Hyderabad, on July 5, 2008. (Photograph copyright AFP)