Following May 25 bloodbath in Bastar, today’s meet consisting of Chief Ministers and top officials of the Naxal-affected states and the centre is expected to come up with concrete measures to tackle the insurgents. Moving parallel to these deliberations, the centre has already ensured that before June 30, there will be a troop surge in the affected areas. This move will be executed by the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and the Indian Air Force (IAF).
CRPF will draft in a total of five thousand troops, consisting of five battalions, de-inducted from their counter-terrorism and public order duties in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). Their duties have been taken over by the Sashatra Seema Bal (SSB) in J&K. This was a phased deployment and not one emanating from last month’s incident.
These troops will be directly launched into areas that need them the most i.e Jharkhand and Chattisgarh. “Three battalions will be inducted into affected districts in Jharkhand and the other two in Chattisgarh. These troops will help the existing situation in a big way,” said a senior CRPF officer. It was learnt that these battalions have already landed in their respective states and are undergoing ‘pre-induction’ training which helps them acclimatize to the changed circumstance and environment around. “This is a regular crash course which troops have to undergo when they move into a new sphere of operations. We have created schools in both these states where this training can be imparted,” said an officer.
The focus with the increasing deployment will be to secure vital roads from where communication and logistics flow. In fact the CRPF is learnt to have pitched for this as a scale to determine where to deploy these troops. “However, a final decision is taken following a consultation with the states concerned,” said an officer.
The anti-Naxal theatre across central and eastern regions has already seen the deployment over around 75 battalions of the CRPF and some from Border Security Force (BSF) and the Indo Tibetan Border Police (ITBP).
Even though last week, the IAF chief Air Chief Marshal NAK Browne had publically mentioned adding six brand new MI17 V5 helicopters to the existing six under IAF’s Operation Triveni, what was not mentioned was a doubling up of the number of Garud commandos of the IAF. Explained a source, “This measure will see the number of Garud commandos go up from the existing two per helo to four per helo. They will remain there in a defensive and reactive role.” According to IAF, this placement is meant to ensure that the helicopter can look after its security in a better way while taking off, landing and being on ground.
“After the incident in January where the Maoists fired upon our helicopter, forcing a landing on us, studies have been carried out and this is one of the many measures taken,” mentioned an officer. In fact, even the Intelligence Bureau (IB) had informed the IAF and other concerned agencies about the specific assignment given to Maoist cadres to down helicopters.