This was a disaster waiting to happen. Deliberate and sustained falsification of realities led to the complacency that resulted in the Maoist massacre of May 25
Police jawans paying 'Guard of Honour' to Chhattisgah Congress President Nand Kumar Patel and others at Jagdalpur a day after they were killed in a Maoists' attack
The Maoists are currently in a phase of tactical retreat, focusing on a reconsolidation of strengths, the enhancement of recruitment to the PLGA, the construction of alternative communication channels to prevent leakage of information, the intensification of propaganda through mass contacts, and escalating overground activities and protests... The state must not mistake the decline in intensity of violence as a destruction of capacity of the Maoists to engage in violence.
Maoists: Tactical Retreat, March 11, 2013
28 persons have been killed, and another 30 have been injured, some of them critically, in the latest swarming attack by cadres of the Communist Party of India— Maoist (CPI-Maoist), executed, on this occasion, in the Darbha Ghati region of the Sukma district in Chhattisgarh's ailing Bastar division. Those killed most prominently include Mahendra Karma, the controversial architect of the armed Salwa Judum anti-Maoist 'people's movement' in the state, which long received support from both the state government and from the centre, and was projected as a model for 'popular resistance' in other theatres afflicted by Maoist violence, till the strategy was excoriated by the Supreme Court for its indiscriminate violence and the violation of human rights, both of its victims and of its own uneducated, backward, often underage cadres. The Pradesh (State) Congress Committee chief, Nandkumar Patel, and his son, former Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) Uday Mudaliyar, were also killed, as were eight security force (SF) personnel in the contingents guarding the political leaders. Several Congress party workers and three labourers were also killed in the improvised explosive device (IED) blast engineered by the Maoists, and in the subsequent crossfire. Former union minister Vidya Charan Shukla and Konta MLA Kawasi Lakhma were among the injured. The 84-year old Shukla is now in critical condition in a Gurgaon hospital. Most of the fatalities were inflicted after the personal guards of the various protected persons ran out of ammunition. In a telling gesture of contempt, the Maoists reportedly did not execute the policemen after the crossfire ended, and targeted their political victims alone.
Initial reports suggest that no special arrangement had been made for the Congress party's high profile political rally Parivartan Yatra (Trek for Change) through one of the worst afflicted regions of the Maoist heartland in Chhattisgarh, and that virtually every element of Standard Operating Procedures (SoPs) had been violated by the 20 to 25 vehicle convoy, and by those inevitably responsible for its protection, including state police officials.
The centre has quickly deputed the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to investigate the debacle— another smokescreen that will help silence anxious inquiries, at least for a few days, while the nation awaits the NIA's learned prognostications.
In the interim, it is useful to turn attention to what is already known.