As many as 743 candidates, including 242 women, have been recruited by the CRPF from the Bastar region of Chhattisgarh, one of the worst Naxal-hit areas, for an ‘all-tribal battalion’ being raised to fight Maoists. The youths have been recruited for the post of constable in the CRPF from tribal-dominated Sukma, Dantewada, Narayanpur and Bijapur districts and will join the ‘Bastariya’ battalion.
“743 scheduled tribes candidates, including 242 women, have been recruited,” a Home Ministry official said. Bastar region comprises Sukma, Dantewada, Narayanpur and Bijapur districts of Chhattisgarh.
The ‘Bastariya’ battalion in CRPF is a unique initiative to enhance local representation in security forces and also provide employment to youths, the official said.
2016 witnessed maximum Naxal violence in Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh — 68.5 per cent of the total incidents and 69 per cent of the deaths.
Situation in Bastar region is considered to be critical due to unabated violence perpetrated by the Maoists.
While giving its approval for raising the Bastariya battalion, the Cabinet Committee on Security, headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, had made it clear that all recruits would have to be from Bastar region.
The concept of ‘Bastariya’ battalion was considered useful as the recruits, mostly local tribals, would help address local unemployment issue, provide tactical advantage to CRPF in operations, intelligence collection and language benefits.
Tribal candidates joining the force are also given a 4.5 cm relaxation in minimum height, which is 160 cm for others. Besides, a 10 per cent relaxation in weight, which has to be proportionate to height and age, is given to them.
Once the training of the recruits in the ‘Bastariya’ battalion is completed, they will be deployed in Chhattisgarh for at least five years. The Central reserved Paramilitary Force, which played a pivotal role in curbing militancy in Punjab during 1980s and in Tripura during 1990s, works under the Ministry of Home Affairs. More than one-third of the CRPF is deployed in Naxal-affected regions to control left-wing extremism.