Thursday, July 17, 2008

To fight Naxals, cops to learn jungle warfare

NEW DELHI: With the Maoists intensifying their attacks, killing over 60 cops in separate incidents in Orissa and shooting a JD(U) MLA in Jharkhand in less than three weeks, the Centre on Wednesday decided to step up its offensive against the Red ultras and also set up six jungle warfare and counter-insurgency schools to train security personnel to deal with the Naxals.

Besides, the government also decided to pump in Rs 200 crore in eight Naxal-affected districts in four states to augment their security apparatus. These districts include Malkangiri in Orissa which witnessed a severe onslaught twice in the past few days.

The remaining seven districts — which will see strong anti-Naxalite action in a holistic manner — are Aurangabad and Gaya in Bihar, Bijapur and Dantewada in Chhattisgarh, Chatra and Palamu in Jharkhand and Rayagada in Orissa.

All these districts will get Rs 25 crore each under the plan to step up offensive against the Maoists.

"Six jungle warfare and counter-insurgency schools will be set up this year to train commando forces being raised by the Naxal-affected states," home secretary Madhukar Gupta said amid reports of a powerful landmine explosion by Maoists in Malkangiri in which 21 Special Operation Group (SOG) personnel were feared killed.

After chairing two separate meetings with officials of four Naxal-affected states — Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh and Orissa — Gupta said they had discussed operational strategies to deal with the Maoists "in considerable detail".

The home secretary said the issue of raising a specialised central force had come up in the meeting and hoped that the Cabinet approval for it would be received in the "near future".

"A few battalions already engaged in the task have been identified. The states have also been asked to arrange land for setting up the battalions so that by the time the approval is received, it can be operationalized immediately," he said.

Gupta said action was being taken to strengthen the intelligence network and for modernization of the security forces in all the Naxal-affected states. He said the states had a large number of vacancies in their police forces and the Centre had asked them to take initiatives to fill them up.

"We told them that unless you fill up the vacancies, the Centre cannot continue to give you additional forces. You have to be self-sufficient. And accordingly, each state is recruiting 10,000 personnel," Gupta said.

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