Friday, December 18, 2009

CRPF Likely to Protect Salwa Judum Camps

New Delhi | Dec 18, 2009

The over 2,000 SSB personnel protecting state government-run Salwa Judum camps in Chhattisgarh are likely to be replaced by CRPF men for better coordination of operations ahead of the all out offensive against naxals in the country.

The two Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) battalions will be shifted to Assam for counter-insurgency and internal security duties. SSB already has five companies (about 500 men) deployed in the state, official sources said.

The SSB personnel have been protecting around ten Salwa Judum camps, comprising 2,000 people in the two districts of Bijapur and Dantewada in Chhattisgarh since April last year.

The force which will replace SSB could be the CRPF, they said.

The Home Ministry had ordered the replacement and the movement of the troops will take place now as it was held back for sometime due to elections in few states. The move has been initiated to achieve a streamlined and focused output of operations and administration, sources said.

The SSB has spent an approximately Rs 16 lakh for civic action works in the last year in these camps, an SSB officer said.

As mandated by the Union Government, the unified operational command of central para-military forces for naxal-hit areas constitute forces like CRPF, ITBP and BSF.

Almost 50 battalions (50,000 personnel) of central security forces have already started reaching the respective areas of operations and are currently undergoing area familiarisation process.

The SSB had initiated civic action programmes like providing health care facilities, educational facilities and supply of sports goods at these camps.

The SSB troops also carried out security-related duties like opening of roads and detection of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).

As paramilitary and state police personnel prepare for the offensive any time next year, central security agencies and state intelligence agencies have been asked to keep a tab on the top-rung naxal leaders.

As per an estimate, there are about 7000-10,000 armed naxals operating in about 40,000 sq km area of the country

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