Thousands of police and paramilitary troopers were put on high alert Friday in Chhattisgarh for fear of possible retaliation by Maoists, a day after the killing of their top leader in West Bengal.
"Maoists will strive to hit back. Though securitymen deployed in rebel-hit areas are always on guard they have now been asked to observe maximum alertness after Kishanji's death," said Additional Director General Ram Niwas.
Mallojula Koteshwar Rao alias Kishanji, 55, who was a politburo member of the outlawed Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist), was killed in an encounter in West Bengal Thursday.
The killing of the rebel leader, who was number three in CPI-Maoist ranks, is expected to trigger retaliation by guerrillas in their strongholds and Chhattisgarh is one of the worst hit by Maoist insurgency.
Police fear that Maoists may either target their bases or even civilians in the state's southern sprawling 40,000 sq km Bastar region where the outlawed group virtually runs a parallel government in the interiors.
"We expect retaliation in the five districts of Bastar besides Rajnandgaon in western Chhattisgarh and the jungle areas of Raipur and Mahasamund," a senior official at the police headquarters here said.
He said some forces deployed in the deep jungles of Dantewada, Bijapur and Narayanpur district have been asked to move to small police posts and government installations, which are vulnerable to attacks.