Sunday, April 11, 2010

Combat schools not ready for the fight

AMIT GUPTA

Ranchi, April 11: Jharkhand has been slow in setting up the Jungle Warfare Training School (JWTS), aimed at training forces in guerrilla warfare to counter Naxalites, in the Maoist stronghold of Netarhat in Latehar district.

Similar is the case with two other proposed schools christened Counter Insurgency and Anti-Terrorist Schools (CIATS) which were to come up in Padma in Hazaribagh and Netarhat. The Centre sanctioned CIATS last year, while JWTS was sanctioned by the state government in 2004-05.

At the Netarhat school, where hardly any infrastructure is in place, top police officials claim training is being imparted in jungle warfare, sans any expert instructors.

The sanctioned posts of deputy inspector-general (DIG) of police, superintendents of police, additional superintendents of police and deputy superintendent of police are either to be filled up or the appointed person is yet to assume office.

Palamau deputy inspector-general of police Prashant Singh holds the additional post of DIG at JWTS at present.

“The first batch of district police forces passed out last year. The second batch is undergoing training and is expected to pass out in a month or so. We provide 150 days basic training and three-week capsule course in jungle warfare,” Singh claimed.

However, he conceded that jawans from the state who had undergone training at the Counter Terrorism and Jungle Warfare College (CTJWC) in Chhattisgarh’s Kanker and the army-run Counter Insurgency and Jungle Warfare School in Vairangte, Mizoram, were the ones training the state troupes.

Director-general of police Neyaz Ahmed conceded that at present the Netarhat school only provided basic police training and not guerrilla warfare techniques for which it was set up in the first place.

“We are in process of appointing array of ex-army staff, experts on guerrilla warfare techniques. I am hopeful that the appointment process will be over by the end of this month. A colonel rank retired army official will be heading the training part,” Ahmed told The Telegraph.

A senior police officer, who earlier looked after the affairs at Netarhat, confirmed that at present no training in guerrilla warfare was being provided. “The school faces shortage of power, water and trained staff,” he said.

Setting up the entire required infrastructure at Netarhat should have been done by August 2009, but despite the official deadline ending, the state police headquarters has not pulled up its socks.

The school is spread over 198 acres in a setting perfect for imparting training in guerrilla warfare techniques.

State police spokesperson V. H. Deshmukh, who is also managing director of State Police Housing Corporation, said it would not be prudent to reveal too much about the infrastructure of specialised training schools, specially in the wake of heightened Naxalite activity.

IG (provisions) N. P. Singh also appeared unaware of the latest developments as far as the specialised training schools were concerned.

However, highly placed sources said the home department had interviewed a retired colonel rank army official to head the Netarhat school, but no final decision had been taken by the state machinery.

As far as two proposed CIATs were concerned, things were yet to take any concrete shape despite the Centre releasing Rs 10.50 crore for the purpose.

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