Tag Archives: crpf

Sukma, CG: Cops won’t occupy fortified stations till furniture & colouring is done

Assuring the assembly of chief ministers of ten Maoist-hit states about the centre’s support in terms of training, resources and intelligence, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh added a condition nevertheless. “But states must take initiative to conduct operations and use resources optimally”, he said before inaugurating the key meeting on May 8. While the national meet was called in the wake of repeated reverses suffered in Chhattisgarh’s Sukma district, Singh’s words have failed in making any impact in that very place. Exemplifying that irony are two ready yet unused ‘heavily-fortified police stations which can serve as an impregnable base for nearly 200 troops’ at any given point in time.

Ready for months now and located in the heart of the troubled Sukma district, the local police has failed to move in to either of them. Inexplicably it has ensured that policemen and counterparts from the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) continue to operate in lesser strength from older barracks in the vicinity.

ea46f9fc-412a-4d89-95e8-200edae39eb8
Report appeared in the MAIL TODAY newspaper on May 18, 2017

Running south from the town of Jagdalpur in Chhattisgarh’s Bastar region is the National Highway (NH) 221, re-named as NH30. It has had a particularly bloodied past. Among the instances of bloodlust the road has witnessed, the brutal massacre of the Congress party’s state leadership in the Jheeram Ghati in May 2013 reverberates in the national consciousness to this date. Located along that highway are the towns of Kukanar and Chhindgarh, separated by 15km. It is in these towns that the two fortified police stations have been constructed under central assistance where funds up to Rs 624 crore have been made available to ten states for a total of 400 such police stations. There are in all 75 such police stations earmarked for Chhattisgarh alone.

According to a local resident in Kukanar, “The building has been ready since the end of 2016 but no one has occupied it yet. Earlier this year, villagers were asked to attend its inauguration but we are still waiting for an invite.” Similarly in Chhindgarh, locals said the building was awaiting occupancy since nearly a year. “May be it is about not getting VIPs to inaugurate it or something else, we don’t know. There are other smaller police stations in other parts of Sukma also lying empty we have heard,” said another local resident.

When asked for its response and stand on the issue, the Home Ministry kept mum. In Chhattisgarh, DM Awasthi, Special Director General, Anti Naxal Operations (ANO) said, “The one at Kukanar has been handed over to us six months back. I have ordered my staff to operationalise it immediately. In Chhindgarh, there are minor repairs pending.” Sukma’s Superintendent of Police, Abhishek Meena when asked said, “Chhindgarh building is ready but colouring and repair work is left. In Kukanar, we have ordered furniture and awaiting its set up”.

Kukanar building
The brand new compound in Kukanar lying unused. ‘Handed over to us six months back. I have ordered my staff to operationalise it immediately’, says senior police officer DM Awasthi. SOURCE: JUGAL R PUROHIT

This delay has not gone down well with members of the security set up.

“Where is the will to take on Maoists? In Delhi, they talk about doing things on war-footing, senior officials fly in and out conducting meetings and on the ground, the police is unwilling to move, wasting precious infrastructure,” said a source on the condition of anonymity. Another source observed, “Across the country, there is outrage over how Maoists are killing security forces and here the policemen are waiting for well-designed, coloured and comfortable police stations”.

Chhindgarh building
Chhindgarh’s fortified police station lying unused. The area SP told me his force had sought colouring and repair jobs before they could move it. SOURCE: JUGAL R PUROHIT

Interestingly, in the aftermath of the Burkapal ambush in Sukma last month where 25 CRPF personnel were killed by the Maoists, the centre had defended the state police’s role. In a statement released on April 26th, the union home ministry had stated, “It is incorrect to say that Chhattisgarh Police is in shambles. In addition to 45,000 Central Forces, over 20,000 State Police personnel are posted in Bastar region. The Chhattisgarh police forces are well equipped and a Bastar package for police was introduced in end 2015. There is complete coordination between Centre and State forces”.

STORY FIRST APPEARED ON INDIA TODAY PORTAL: http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/rajnath-singh-maoists-chhattisgarh-police-stations/1/955854.html

Advertisements

16 months into the job, NSA Ajit Doval takes first ground lessons in Maoist-hit Bastar

Article appeared in the MAIL TODAY newspaper on October 2, 2016
Article appeared in the MAIL TODAY newspaper on October 2, 2016

It is a visit about which very few knew and was to be kept under wraps. India’s National Security Adviser Ajit Doval spent  the whole of Thursday in the region worst affected by the Maoist insurgents, Chhattisgarh’s Bastar. This was his first visit to this region since the time he took charge of India’s national security last year. His visit comes at a time when the divergence between the state and the centre has widened over the aspect of how to take the anti-Maoist fight forward. It also comes at a time when the monsoon has nearly retreated and anti-Maoist operations in full flow are set to commence.

Sources informed this correspondent that Doval flew in from New Delhi to Chhattisgarh.  Subsequently, he boarded  a helicopter and undertook an aerial tour of Sukma district in Chhattisgarh. The southern part of Sukma is a region the Maoists label as ‘liberated zone’ or a region where they, not the government machinery, run the show. After he concluded his aerial sortie, he held a review meeting with authorities on the ground which included the top brass of the state police, state government and the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF).He returned to New Delhi before the end of the day. “This was a visit where the NSA was keen to absorb and understand all the stake holders. He gave us all a patient hearing,” said a source.

While the official line was to keep a low profile, sharp differences have emerged over the conduct of these operations. The state administration, branded ‘non-starter’ and ‘non-serious’ many times over by the officials at the centre felt they were not being understood fully, whereas those at the centre believe otherwise. A classic example of this was the ill-fated CRPF-driven operation, ‘Operation SS (South Sukma) 14’ conducted last December which led to the loss of lives of several CRPF personnel. This operation, conducted by about 700 CRPF men saw a much smaller force of the Maoists successfully thwart it and cause casualties. That the local police was not fully convinced and thus did not participate fully only helped the Maoists. State police on its part, despite the raging insurgency, has failed to even recruit itself in numbers already authorised. There is about 10 per cent shortfall in its total strength at present.

“It is a surprise that someone as important as the NSA has found time only now. It, in a way, tells you of the priority that the government has. Nevertheless, now that he has gone we hope he has learnt the right lessons and his role will help the man on the ground perform his duty better,” said a source.

GAYA EXPLOSIVES DUMP BUSTED: CRPF’s single success which will save hundreds of lives. Read more

image

image

image

image

image

CRPF OPS BATTALIONS 153 & 159 INVOLVED IN GAYA, BIHAR THIS AFTERNOON

Can bomb -107 nos (40KGx1, 25×7, 10×3, 2KG x96)
Petrol Bomb-25 nos
Grenade-23 nos
Explosives -90kgs
Iron box -3 nos
Amn Nitrate-9kgs
Cordex wire- 20 meters
Radio Set-3 nos
Detonator-5 nos
Chemical-20 ltrs,
Suitcase IED-1 (20kg)
.315 Bolt Action Rifle-02 nos
12 Bore gun-03 nos

‘Where CrPC fails, CRPF goes’, says training boss as he welcomes 80 young officers into the force

Jouyous & Jubilant - The trainees throw their caps up in the air in a ceremony after the Passing Out Parade

Eighty (80) young and direct officers, including five (05) Mahila officers were

inducted into the Force, in a majestic ‘Passing Out Parade’ of 45 (A) batch of DAGOs

(Directly Appointed Gazetted Officers) held today at CRPF Academy, Kadarpur, Gurgaon. Sh

Prakash Mishra, DG CRPF was the Chief Guest on this occasion and took salute on this

occasion. The officers have passed through 50 weeks of rigorous physical, WT (Weapon &

Tactics), survival, official procedure & combat leadership to carve out the best in them.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr. B.N. Ramesh, Director CRPF Academy, Kadarpur,

Gurgaon lauded the role of the Academy in shaping young leaders of the Force, which

functions under most trying circumstances. He said that “CRPF goes to places where CrPC

Speaking on this occasion, Sh Prakash Mishra, DG CRPF congratulated the exhorted

the trainees to take every challenge as an opportunity and prove that they are the Best. He

advised them to be specially sensitive towards women and the weaker sections of the

society.

Sh Prateek Jain, Asst Commandant was adjudged the ‘Best All Round Candidate’ and

won the ‘Sword of Honour’ and the “Home Minister’s Cup”, Sh Prahlad Singh, A/C won

the ‘’Shahid Prahlad Singh Memorial Trophy”” for Best Firer, whereas Ms Poonam Negi, A/C

won the Shahid Manoranjan Singh Trophy for ‘Best in Drill’. Sh Rakesh Raman, A/C won the

Shahid Jatin Gulati Trophy for being the Best Trainee in “Combat”.

''Desh Ke Hum Hain Rakshak'' - The trainees taking oath during the Passing Out Parade

The function was attended by senior officers, a large number of jawans and their

families.

(Photos and text courtesy PRO, CRPF)

STARTING FEBRUARY: Forces fighting Maoists to have eye in the sky as UAV base finally shifts from Hyd to Bhilai, Chhattisgarh

Article appeared in the MAIL TODAY newspaper on December 31
Article appeared in the MAIL TODAY newspaper on December 31

The coming year may bring in some desperately needed relief to men combating the Maoists in central Indian states in the form of better intelligence gathering and coordination. After more than three years since it was first mooted, the base of operations for the Israel-made Heron Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) will be shifted from Begumpet airport in Hyderabad to Bhilai in western Chhattisgarh. This arrangement, according to sources involved, will be in place by the end of February 2015.

Yesterday, the Left Wing Extremism (LWE) division of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) held a meeting in New Delhi where the issue under discussion was the ‘delay’ of establishment of the base in Bhilai. At the end of the meeting, according to a stakeholder who was present, “It was unanimously decided that by February we should be able to begin flying from Bhilai. It will mean better availability of the UAV, better exploitation of the asset and most importantly, more flying time on hand.”

The UAV in question is operated by the spy agency National Technological Research Organization (NTRO) and is actually flown by Indian Air Force (IAF) personnel who are on deputation to the agency. Ever since December 2011 when the first UAV flight was conducted by the NTRO for the Central Reserve Police Force in South Chhattisgarh’s Bastar region, the demand has been to shift the aircraft out of Hyderabad to a location closer to the area of operation. A letter written by the then Director General of the CRPF, K Vijay Kumar to then Home Secretary RK Singh while commending the role discharged and valuable inputs it provided stated, “The UAV almost took three hours to reach from Hyderabad and could effectively be utilised only for 3-3 1/2 hours for the area of operation.”

Ever since then MHA, CRPF as well as NTRO have been locked in discussions about just where the UAVs should be based out of. Finally in 2012, an airstrip in Bhilai was identified and work began towards upgrading and establishing all facilities there.

According to a source in Chhattisgarh aware of the actual up gradation at the Bhilai site, operations can be initiated at the airstrip by February. “As I see it, work is on in full swing and February should not be too difficult a target to achieve,” he said.

The forces have had a rather uncomfortable relationship with the NTRO. Recently in the Sukma ambush where the CRPF lost 14 men, the force complained to the MHA that the NTRO unilaterally pulled out the UAV right when the encounter began.

The NTRO’s explanation was that it had run out of fuel and had no option left. Time and again, the CRPF and MHA have been pressing the NTRO to move out of Hyderabad. However the infrastructure in Bhilai is only now coming up. Such has been the MHA’s frustration that it has ordered CRPF to procure UAVs and train its own personnel to avoid reliance on NTRO/IAF personnel. Said a source, “Issue was acquiring the land and creating the infrastructure. Multiple departments of the centre and state governments were involved and thus a lot of red tape too.”

Why Bhilai as a base

While operations from Hyderabad ensured that the UAV hardly had ‘Time on Task’ by the time it reached areas of south Bastar and Gadchiroli, far less over Jharkhand, placing the same in Bhilai makes it possible to do so. The location is central to regions of Bastar, Gadchiroli, western Odisha as well as Jharkhand and Bihar.

Why a UAV can be a game changer

UAV relays live images of the situation back to the control room with the help of a high-resolution camera on its belly and satellite networking, which is then shared with the troops in real time. For the security forces, UAVs changed the game. Notwithstanding the foliage, penetrating which remains a challenge, the forces know the exact area of the Maoists’presence, and also asses the topography and execute an operation – an edge they never had.

MY PIECE: Post Sukma ambush, CRPF’s two field officers get the boot; inquiry against top boss under a cloud

Report in MAIL TODAY newspaper on December 19
Report in MAIL TODAY newspaper on December 19

Recovering from a deadly blow dealt by the Maoists in the form of killing 14 of its men and looting their weapons, the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) has decided to move on. However, with a step forward it has also taken a step back which has raised many eyebrows not just among its rank and file but even outside.

Confirming reports about a poor fighting effort and a failure of command and control among its different battalions involved in December 1 ambush in Chhattisgarh’s Sukma, the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) has ‘attached’ and relieved from command two of its leading officers who commanded two key units who participated in the ill-fated operations.

Even as it does so, it’s effort to conduct an impartial probe into the issue has come under a cloud. The reason behind this has to do with the Presiding Officer of the Court of Inquiry (CoI) launched into this episode.

Field officers get the boot

In an order dated December 11, the CRPF HQs “attached” the Commanding Officer (CO) 223 General Duty battalion from which all the men who perished belonged alongwith a Deputy Commandant who was the officer leading 206 CoBRA battalion, a specialised force. The order has sought the respective formations to relieve these officers on an immediate basis. “They will not be given any task and will remain attached with their zonal headquarters in Kolkata,” it was learnt. When asked Director General CRPF RC Tayal said, “While there was a failure of command and control in the case of 223 battalion and the Commanding Officer was not around, in the case of CoBRA battalion, we observed that they failed to act and could not prevent the looting of arms despite not being too far from the embattled troops of 223 battalion.” According to Tayal, these actions emanated from the initial findings. “Nobody is off the hook yet, including the Inspector General HS Sidhu who was leading the operations on the ground. I am personally looking into the case,” Tayal added.

However this move has not gone down well with the force.

Said an officer aware of the entire operation, “The CO of 223 battalion had been called by the IG for a meet when the Maoists began firing. He took time to reach the location as the meet was some distance away and had to make his way back while the firing was on.” CO 223 battalion who was leading 90 odd men from his battalion was unharmed while his Deputy Commandant and Assistant Commandant fell to the Maoist bullets with 12 other men. In the case of the CoBRA Deputy Commandant, his party with specialised weapons claimed they had participated and even rescued some of the injured.

Cloud over inquiry

The CoI looking into the episode is presided over by DIG Sanjay Kumar who is stationed at Raipur and is administratively under the IG in this case. “Can you expect the DIG to scrutinize his boss? The IG was personally leading the operations on ground so like others his actions also need to be scrutinized. With this move I am confident that no fault whatsoever of the IG will be found,” said a CRPF officer.

Retired Additional Director General of CRPF, DC Dey agreed, “Someone from outside should have been assigned this task”. Former Director General of Border Security Force (BSF) Prakash Singh said, “The force headquarters needs to step in. I understand that the IG was on the field and he may not have anything to hide but a senior officer who could have examined the IG’s role too should have been asked to investigate. Otherwise it won’t carry conviction.”

While the IG refused to comment, sources in Raipur said there was no problem at all in anyone inquiring. “The force headquarters asked the IG to appoint an inquiry and he did. If there is any apprehension then CRPF HQ should directly handle matters, there will not be any resistance”, said a source.

The operation was not planned as it should have been: RC Tayal, DG CRPF

Q. What is the takeaway from this ambush for the CRPF?
A. There is no meaning in conducting operations by announcing our presence and moving in broad day light in areas dominated by the Maoists. We have decided that we will carry out our movements by night now onwards. We have also decided to improve motivation levels among our men, incentivize postings in Maoist-affected areas and plan better. MHA is already in the loop on this.

Q. Is that then an admission that this operation was not planned properly?
A. I would say that it was not planned the way it should have been.

Q. This operation also saw minimal participation from the side of the police. Do you then believe that in the time to come the CRPF can/should take on operations in unfamiliar terrain without the local police’s participation?
A. Our role is that of being in aid to the civil police. My view is that there is no meaning in conducting operations unless the state leadership comes forward. It is flawed model if we believe CRPF can take the lead and do operations on its own

WEEK AFTER SUKMA AMBUSH: Jawans who fought Maoists tell me, ‘700 of us couldn’t take on 100 Maoists, feeling appalled’

Article as appeared on December 7 in the MAIL TODAY newspaper
Article as appeared on December 7 in the MAIL TODAY newspaper

With a hint of anger in his blood-shot eyes, he revealed, “We were close to seven hundred. They were barely over a hundred. Yet we could neither save our colleagues or their weapons nor could we eliminate the rebels”. Rajat and three of his colleagues (names changed on request) were a part ‘Operation SS 14 (South Sukma)’ from the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) who faced off with the Maoists on Monday and lost fourteen of their men including two officers. They are presently awaiting their return to their original location.

While Rajat Kumar is a young ‘sipahi’, joined hardly two years ago, his colleagues are not. “Nothing is going to change. I am looking at completing twenty years of service and exiting with pension,” said Mahesh Raj, a constable. For the force that the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) wants to become the arrow head of India’s anti-Maoist effort, it is a difficult time. Those outside see it as fighting a difficult battle. Those inside have little hope of things improving.

By November 10, officers in various battalions were informed of a major, ‘four phase’ operation to be conducted later in the month. By November 15, personnel were sought from an array of battalions which included 74th, 150th, 201st & 206th CoBRA, team directly under Deputy Inspector General (DIG) CoBRA, team directly under Inspector General (IG) CRPF and 223th battalion. Before November 15, over 600 personnel had gathered at camps like Pollampalli, Kankerlanka and Puswada among others in Sukma.

“Our operations would take two nights and three days. We had nil intelligence. We would search, wander from one location to the other, expose ourselves to the Maoists and return,” said Rajat. It was reliably learnt that the operation has come under question from several quarters within the CRPF. When asked, the acting Director General RC Tayal had earlier commented, “The traditional area domination operations need to now change. We must hit the Maoists and operations need to be pinpoint, specific and swift.” As these operations progressed, on November 21, in its second phase, seven personnel were injured by the Maoists. Later, the third and fourth phases were merged into one and undertaken from November 29 to December 1.

On November 30, five of those who participated in the operations were detected with malaria and required immediate evacuation. However a Border Security Force (BSF) helicopter flew in on that day but did not land, citing unfit conditions. “We covered a hillock and slept there for the night. Next morning, you can say our operation had turned into one where we were only scurrying to detect a suitable landing spot for the helicopter,” said Pankaj Kumar, another constable.

As luck would have it, coordination with the helicopter fleet for such a massive operation was another debacle.

The IAF team at Jagdalpur readied itself to fly but all day the CRPF could not confirm just where to land till it was in the sunset range! “Helipad locations kept changing throughout. At 1610 hours, the fourth location came. And mind you, all along CRPF never uttered a word that there was an ambush. We got curious. Finally, at 1640hrs they asked us to go to evacuate their injured and we couldn’t because it was too late.The state government, despite repeated reminders has failed to install equipment which can allow us to land at night. Had they done that even at their Chintagufa camp, where the troops returned that night, we would have evacuated the injured,” said a MoD official.

Little of this means anything to these men on ground. “Forget malaria cases, even if the IAF/BSF had flown the next day when we asked them to on the day of the ambush, two of out men would have been alive today,” said Pankaj Kumar.

On ground, before all hell broke loose, all the team commanders were called to meet the IG at the ground zero. It was close to 9:30am. As the encounter began with firing from a ridge on to CRPF position near Kasalpad village, instead of fighting the hundred odd Maoists, different units of the CRPF were moving in different directions. “We still don’t know why many things happened the way they did. We did not act as one,” conceded an officer who was a key element of the entire operation.

Frustration written over his face, Rajat said, “We were looking for the Maoists all these days. We were tired but we wanted to finish them off because they had showed up finally. But when firing began we noticed that not all were fighting.” His colleague, Mahesh, quiet till now said, “In J&K, when militants show up, the entire area is cordoned and militants are not allowed to walk away like it happened here.”

The MHA has announced a slew of committees to investigate the lapses and review the CRPF’s functioning apart from the statutory Court of Inquiry (CoI).

An inspector who was watching the conversation flow said, “I have seen the CRPF for over 25 years. Never before has the force taken so many hits. We are being called upon to do the kind of work that militaries do yet we neither have that kind of training nor powers.”

BOX – WEAPONS MAOISTS LOOTED

  • 2000 AK47 rounds
  • 300 rounds INSAS Light Machine Gun
  • 30 Under Barrel Grenade Launchers
  • 10 AK47 rifles
  • 01 Self Loading Rifle
  • 01 INSAS LMG
  • 04 Bullet Proof Jackets
  • 01 GPS Set
  • 01 VHF Manpack set
  • 02 Binocular