Lalgarh – West Midnapore, Bengal – A place which I am sure most Indian knows about. Lalgarh, a place where lines between reality, facts and opinions are blurred, and it still remains trapped in a vicious circle of oppression and retribution. Oppression by the police and Maoists taking advantage of the situation turned the place into one of the most violent place in recent times.
To bring about peace and get back the confidence of people there, needed a special plan and a very special force. Success of Operation Lalgarh depended heavily on an elite group of commandos called – COBRA.
During elections West Midnapore had to be put under heavy CRPF security. And while talking with few I got a chance to meet one member of this very COBRA unit. And after a long discussion with this person I realized how thankless and dangerous their job is. Not just that, these people are the real “Unsung” heroes of this maiost operation. These commandos belong to CRPF itself but go through a different rigorous training. This force is specialized in jungle warfare and specially trained to fight the guerrilla like a guerrilla.
There training even includes catching and eating their namesake – Snakes. In the forest they might not get food and hence this step. Not just snake, they are trained to eat anything that is edible and as per their training, edible means anything that won’t harm their system or atleast will make their system used to. These commandos are specially trained to endure thirst for many hours at a stretch. When Maoists leave a place, they make sure to poison the wells, ponds or any other water source. This is a trend being followed by them for long even in other places, is what this person told me. So these commandos train their body such that it can carry on without water and not hamper their stamina.
These people have uniform but when deputed in Bengal, they wear casuals. This is done to deceive the Maoists. And their job is not to get into real combat with the Maoists. Their job is to sanitise the jungle routes through which the security forces would pass. When forces have to cross a path, these COBRAS fan out on both side of the route to make sure no Maoist lay in ambush.
This is an elite security force, which are working day and night to provide security to public and also to the security forces that go out for direct confrontation with the Maoists. They are helping to see peace remains and no harm comes to others from likes of Maoists or other Naxalite groups. But they remain the most unknown ones for the general public of our nation. Glories of any successful anti-maoist mission are always taken away by the main security forces.
Unfortunately, NONE gets to know the major part that these forces play behind the scene. They are the “Unsung” heroes of this fight against Maoists and Naxalites in India. I was fortunate enough to meet with one such, and though I am barred from visiting Lalgarh ;), I still would love to be there once to meet few more from this force.