Thursday, May 11, 2006

Tribal youths will now fight Naxals

Rakesh Prakash
[ Thursday, May 11, 2006 01:40:42 amTIMES NEWS NETWORK ]

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BANGALORE: Grab them before the Naxals do: this is the new strategy of the government to prevent tribal youths from turning to Naxalism.

The state hopes to do it by providing alternative employment. Personnel appointed to the newly sanctioned India Reserve Battalion to contain Naxalism will be largely the disenchanted tribal youth whose poverty and unemployment are being exploited by anti-social elements.

Director-general and inspector-general of police B S Sial told The Times of India: "As per Centre’s guidelines, the battalion will be raised from the Naxal-affected districts in the state."

The proposal is a win-win situation for both the government and the tribals. While the latter get employment, the government gets tribal knowledge of Naxal activities that could be used to great advantage. Moreover, it would dry up the recruiting ground for Naxals.

The battalion will be similar to that of Salwa Judum, Chhatisgarh model of countering Naxals by using tribals. Sial said the state government will impart specialised commando training to the tribal youth recruited for the battalion.

The expertise of paramilitary forces and Army will be utilised to train the tribals. Recruiting tribals will also help the police top brass in planning attacks as the former are familiar with the terrain and can easily collect intelligence inputs.

The government is also contemplating to emulate Andhra Pradesh which relaxed its rules pertaining the physical and educational requirements while recruiting 3,000 tribals recently.

The raising costs of the battalion will be borne by the Centre and the amount has been hiked from Rs 13 crore to Rs 25 crore.

Karnataka had pressed for the battalion, a long standing demand, at a conference of chief ministers from Naxal affected states held recently under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

The state contended that recruitments by Naxals were increasing in the districts of Udupi, Chikmagalur, Dakshina Kannada, Shimoga, Tumkur and Kolar and that 75 police stations were vulnerable to Naxal attack.

Keeping an eye: While drawing plans to lure tribals to its fold, the police top-brass have also instructed the intelligence wing to step up surveillance on the frontal organisations of the Naxals.

According to police sources, there are about 15 pro-Naxal groups that are actively recruiting youth from the tribal pockets.

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