Sunday, April 11, 2010

CRPF men hold up anti-Naxal ops

Shivanand Shukla | Raipur

Criticism makes jawans stay put in barracks

After hotly pursuing the Maoists for a couple of days after the Dantewada massacre, the anti-Naxalite operations have come to a grinding halt in the killing fields of Chhattisgarh.

The CRPF personnel remained confined to their base camps and refused to move out amid low morale and criticism relating to alleged faulty decision on area domination, failure of the ill-fated 62nd battalion to abide by standard operational procedures and ignoring the intelligence inputs.

“No doubt the loss of 75 men in one attack is very demoralising for the forces, but what has further added to their woes is the criticism,” said an officer involved with the operation.

At many places, CRPF personnel have retired to their barracks and would act only after they get green signal from their higher-ups, said sources. The State authorities too are not willing, at least under the current circumstances, to involve the CRPF in any operation for fear of being hit again by the Maoists.

“It’s true that at present no operation is being carried out, but it’s not true that the operations have been given up under fear,” an officer of the State police said. The entire anti-Maoist strategy is being reviewed to plug the loopholes, he pointed out. “The operation will resume soon,” he added.

Experts believe that a proactive approach, along with hard decisions, is the need of the hour. “If any decision for sharpening the operations results in a tragedy, it must not lead to criticism; otherwise no officer will take any decision in future which will ultimately be harmful for the anti-Maoist drive,” an official said.

He was referring to the decision to send for three days the CRPF personnel in the jungles for carrying out an area domination exercise and also familiarise themselves with the forests and terrain, which would have helped them develop a “sixth sense” in their fight against extremists.

Significantly, it was for the first time that CRPF teams from all their bases had gone for three days’ area domination exercise. But the company posted at Chintalnar got eliminated. “You have to increase your working capacity beyond the general eight-hour period to fight the well-armed and formidable enemy,” said another source.

“Any loss suffered during an operation should be subjected to review. The review should be on the field craft and not for running down the decision. If this is done, it will harm the morale of forces,” said a senior police official.

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