Saturday, July 04, 2009

Maoists, troop cut on PC plate

NISHIT DHOLABHAI

New Delhi, July 4: The home ministry has announced an ambitious 100-day agenda: “rationalising” paramilitary presence in Kashmir, a resolve for a “final settlement” with northeastern insurgents who have a cease-fire pact with the government, and intensifying the battle against the Maoists.

The ministry has set a September 30 deadline, which actually comes to 90 days since the announcement was made on Thursday.

In Kashmir, where some 70,000 CRPF personnel are now deployed, “rationalisation” will mean sending many of them back to the barracks if not pulling some out of the state altogether. The ministry has already announced it will take the CRPF out of Baramulla.

The rationalisation plan may also apply to the BSF personnel deployed away from the frontier in Jammu and Kashmir.

In Sheikhpura, Budgam district, the security forces have already been ordered out of the premises of the 200 flats being built for Kashmiri Pandits.

“Pending completion, the premises have been occupied by” the state police and the CRPF, the ministry’s agenda, labelled Action Plan II, says. “HM (home minister) has ordered vacation.”

Home minister P. Chidambaram has apparently taken a firm view against the security forces occupying public premises on a long-term basis.

In Maoist areas, the government plans an overhaul of the security set-up. It has promised an increase in security-related expenditure in Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bengal, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Bihar and Orissa in 2009-10.

Four more battalions of the CRPF’s elite anti-Maoist wing, Cobra, will be ready by 2010-2011, the ministry says. Orissa will get two ALF Dhruv helicopters to fight the Naxalites while insurgency-hit Tripura too will get two.

The ministry has pledged to appoint 6,666 special police officers (SPOs) in Tamil Nadu, Andhra, Orissa and Bihar.

Chidambaram also wants the National Counter Terrorism Centre set up by September 30, along with a tactical wing at the National Police Academy, Hyderabad, to counter rural and urban terrorism.

The national intelligence grid will be strengthened through sharing of inputs among the various agencies. The ministry wants to ready the scheme of central assistance to state intelligence wings by September 30.

The 100-day agenda says the government, within the same deadline, will firm up its views “on the proposals for final settlement” with northeastern militant groups with which it has cease-fire agreements. These include Naga, Garo, Bodo and Dimasa groups.

Such settlements — pivoted on the rebels’ acceptance of India’s Constitution and territorial integrity — aren’t easy as the years of talks with Naga militants have shown. Still, this is the first time Delhi has promised to put its stand in the public domain and spoken officially of a “final settlement”.

At the same time, the ministry plans to provide the Assam Rifles — a paramilitary force under the army’s operational command — with an intelligence wing and commando units.

Fencing and floodlighting of the country’s borders with Pakistan and Bangladesh will gain speed. By the September deadline, 383 outposts will be set up on the Bangladesh border and 126 on the Pakistan border.

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