Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Centre aims to take battle to Naxals

TNN 23 December 2009, 04:22am IST

NEW DELHI: With the Centre gradually moving additional paramilitary forces to Naxal-affected states post-Jharkhand polls to step up ongoing offensives against Red ultras, home ministry has convened a meeting of chief secretaries and police chiefs of five states on Thursday to finetune coordination among them during joint operations at junctions and tri-junctions of bordering states.

The day-long meeting is to be attended by officials from Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa, Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra.

Sources said that besides discussing strategic plans, home minister P Chidambaram will also take stock of development programmes to be carried out by the state governments in Maoist-dominated areas once they are freed from the clutches of Naxals.

The meeting is being convened at a time when the Centre is moving additional 17,000 paramilitary personnel to states to step up its anti-naxal operations in all affected states.

Though the operation is underway in certain pockets in West Bengal, Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra, the idea is to extend it simultaneously at junctions and tri-junctions of other affected states including Bihar, Jharkhand and Orissa.

The states currently have 58,000 paramilitary personnel -- drawn from CRPF, BSF, ITBP, SSB and CoBRA -- at their command. The additional deployment will increase the strength of central forces for anti-Naxal operations to nearly 75,000.

Calling the move to fully dominate Naxal-infested areas across the country a "long haul", a senior home ministry official said it would take nearly "two to three years" to wipe out Maoists from affected states.

According to the plan, central paramilitary forces and state police will jointly dominate an identified area by eliminating Naxals and clearing it from landmines by encircling the area without leaving room for the ultras to escape. Even after the area is cleared, paramilitary forces will not leave the place. They will be stationed there till the time civic administration is fully restored.

"This model is being adopted in Lalgarh area of West Bengal. It will be replicated to other areas one by one," said the official.

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