New Delhi: The central government wants Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar to head a unified command to take on Maoists in one of their last bastions in the state.
The recent attacks on Indian security forces in Gaya reflect a Maoist desperation to foil their elimination from Bihar, government sources with knowledge of the anti-Maoist operations said.
At a meeting of chief secretaries and director generals of police from nine states in the national capital this week, Bihar was urged to establish a unified command with Nitish Kumar at its head.
The unified command will have officers from the security establishment besides officials representing the civil administration. It will carry out carefully planned anti-Maoist drives.
Only four of the nine Maoist-hit states have established a unified command to coordinate the task of security forces with development work in remote areas to blunt the ultras' influence on the locals.
The states are West Bengal, Jharkhand, Odisha and Chhattisgarh. Of these, only Chhattisgarh's unified command is headed by its chief minister, Raman Singh.
The other three unified commands are led by chief secretaries.
A senior government official told IANS that Gaya was the last Maoist stronghold in Bihar.
"If the Maoists are wiped out in Gaya, the whole of Bihar can be free of armed Naxals.
"At the recent review meeting, we requested Bihar to set up a unified command under the chief minister's chairmanship," the official added.
Though the home ministry has been asking Bihar to have a unified command for years, Mr Kumar has avoided it. One reason for it was because he did not see eye to eye with Home Minister P Chidambaram.
But with Sushilkumar Shinde taking succeeding Mr Chidambaram, the situation has changed drastically. The Bihar chief minister may be inclined to go for a unified command and may also head it.
Six Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel were killed and eight injured in a landmine blast and gunbattle between security forces and Maoists on October 18 near Dumaria in Gaya district.
On June 10, a CRPF trooper was killed in a similar blast by Maoists in a forested area in Gaya.