Friday, July 31, 2009

New base in Raipur sets stage for military help in Naxal war

Shishir Gupta
Tags : Raipur, Rashtriya Rifles, Naxal war, A K Antony, P Chidambaram

Posted: Friday , Jul 31, 2009 at 0932 hrs
New Delhi:

With Defence Minister A K Antony giving the green signal for a new Army brigade headquarters in Raipur in Naxalite-hit Chhattisgarh, the stage is being set for the military, particularly the Rashtriya Rifles (RR), to join counter-Naxalite operations.

Raised in 1990 to fight counter-insurgency in Kashmir, the 80,000-strong RR has been operating on a temporary mandate under the Indian Army. Before this mandate expires in September, the Ministry of Defence is moving the CCS to allow RR to be deployed nationwide for counter-insurgency operations. A key step towards this came last week with Home Minister P Chidambaram’s nod allowing a permanent mandate for the RR.

The establishment of a sub-area command in Raipur and a manoeuvering range at Bilaspur — along with a training facility for Special Forces — means that troops will be stationed in Chhattisgarh as part of “confidence-building” operations.

Sources said that Eastern Army Commander Lt General V K Singh, in line to become Army Chief next year, has been sensitized by the government on the possibility of RR involvement in Naxal operations.

A total of 231 security personnel have been killed by Naxalites this year — over ten times the casualties in J&K and North-East put together. The other key decisions taken to beef up anti-Naxal operations:

1. An Army Brigadier has been deputed to the Home Ministry to advise on operations

2. Some CRPF units fighting Naxals will be de-inducted and trained in guerilla warfare with select Army infantry units

3. A Major-General rank officer (GOC), with counter-insurgency experience and stationed in the Valley, who was sent to Naxalite areas to study their operations, has submitted a report to the MoD.

4. Talks with the IAF for evacuation of special forces behind Naxal-dominated lines in armed helicopters.

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