Monday, February 08, 2010

Naxal meet: PC to tell states to make good use of forces

Raghvendra Rao Posted online: Tuesday , Feb 09, 2010 at 0808 hrs

New Delhi : Union Home Minister P Chidambaram, who will be meeting Chief Ministers of the Naxal-affected states of West Bengal, Bihar, Orissa and Jharkhand in Kolkata on Tuesday, is likely to ask them why they were not raising enough forces on their own and not filling the existing vacancies.

Chidambaram will review their preparedness and inter-state cooperation in fighting Naxalism. Faced with repeated demands for more Central paramilitary forces, Chidambaram, sources said, is likely to take stock of how each of the four states have so far utilised the Central forces available to them. “All the states facing the Naxal challenge keep asking for more and more Central forces. At times, the argument is that they have got lesser numbers of Central forces in comparison to other states,” said a government official.

The Centre, sources said, wants to drive home the point that there is a limit up to which Central forces can be provided and the states should instead be filling up vacancies and raise more forces on their own. Having their own forces to fight the Naxals will be more beneficial to the states given the local antecedents of the personnel and their familiarity with the terrain, the states are being told.

At present, a total of 24 battalions (almost 24,000 personnel) of Central paramilitary forces are deployed to fight Naxals in Jharkhand (11 battalions), Bihar (4 battalions), Orissa (4 battalions) and West Bengal (5 battalions). Still, demand for more Central forces have been coming in. West Bengal, for instance, has requested the Centre to provide six more companies of paramilitary forces.

On Monday, addressing the Conference of Chief Ministers on Internal Security, Chidambaram said there were over 1.53 lakh vacancies against the sanctioned posts as on January 1, 2009.

Stating that while the number was expected to come down to 1.38 lakh by March 31 this year, he added that the vacancy position reflected a very “unsatisfactory state of affairs” and there was “no reason why states should not press the accelerator on recruitment and fill the vacancies”.

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