Thursday, February 04, 2010

Bengal to raise own ‘Greyhounds’

Sabyasachi Bandopadhyay Posted online: Friday , Feb 05, 2010 at 0158 hrs
Kolkata : Four days ahead of the crucial meeting at the Writers’ Building to chalk out a strategy to combat the Naxalite menace that will be chaired by Union Home Minister P Chidambaram and attended by chief ministers of four states, the state government has decided to raise a special force on the lines of Greyhounds of Andhra Predesh to fight the leftist ultras.
Sources in the government said though a name for the proposed force has not been decided yet, it will be exclusively used to fight the Maoists in the three Naxal-hit districts of Bankura, Purulia and West Midnapore.

The recruitment process will start soon and the first contingent will be operational within a year, according to Home department officials.

While the initial cost for setting up the force will be around Rs 2 crore, the recurring cost for maintaining the unit will be Rs 25 crore, which will be borne by the state government. “We will ask for more money and central assistance at the February 9 meeting with Chidambaram,” Home Secretary Ardhendu Sen said today.

What prompted the government to raise a special force was the paucity of trained personnel to fight the Maoists. “Once we have our own force, our dependence on the central paramilitary forces, for which we have been entreating the central government, will be reduced,” the home secretary said.

The state government had 17 companies of Central paramilitary forces at in the Naxal-hit areas of which six companies were taken away for election duty in Jharkhand. But even though the elections were over, the forces had not been sent back.

“In principle, they have agreed to send back the six companies but the contingent is yet to arrive,” an official said. The state government has asked for another 10 companies of Central forces and the demand will be raised again at the February 9 meet.

To be set up at Salboni in West Midnapopre, the new anti-Naxal force, with a strength of 600-700 people, will be headed by an IG-level officer. “At present, there is no plan to induct women but we can do it in the future,” Sen said.

The training of the force will be done by CRPF, BSF and the Army. The entire force will comprise fresh recruits and for this a stringent physical standard has been laid out as criteria. “Their training will be basically in anti-insurgency operations and it will be a very tough one,” Sen said.

PCAPA wants to meet Guv Narayanan
The Maoists-backed People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities (PCAPA) now wants new Governor M K Narayanan to intervene to break the deadlock between the outfit and the state government as far as dialogue is concerned.

“Former Governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi had a sympathetic approach to the Lalgarh tribal movement. But, Narayanan has started chalking out strategies to flush out the Maoists from the Jhargram-Lalgarh belt. But he has no idea how the joint forces and the police torture innocent villagers and term them as Maoists. We want to meet the Governor and hold talks if we are called,” said Asit Mahato, convener of the PCAPA.

Meanwhile, the PCAPA called off the indefinite blockade it had started after two tribal women died in police firing at Barikul in Bankura a few days ago.

“We have withdrawn our bandh from the area as we don’t want our people to suffer because of the indefinite bandh. But we supported the Maoists in their bandh because we always get support from them,” added Mahato.
ENS

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