Odisha government has decided on discontinuing on payment of risk allowance to non-combatant commandos of the anti-Maoist force Special Operation Group.
Started in 2004, the Special Operations Group, a specialised anti-Maoist force of under-35 cops trained in anti-insurgency warfare has scored major successes against Maoists in southern Odisha districts in last 4-5 years. In view of the risk that the job carried, all the members of the 2200-odd force – those in field as well in the SOG training centre in Bhubaneswar- were getting 60 per cent more basic salary as incentive.
But with Maoist violence slowly on the decline on Odisha borders, the home department in a resolution on Tuesday said that only those SOG personnel active in anti-Naxal operations would be given the risk allowance of 60 per cent of basic pay. “There is no point giving the risk allowance to someone who is stationed in the training centre in Bhubaneswar,” said a senior police official. The other SOG personnel, stationed in Bhubaneswar and who were getting it since last 11 years, will get special allowance of 20 per cent of basic pay. Officials said the new order will affect 400 commandos of the special force who are not participating in an operation.
In case of death in the field, the family of a SOG jawans gets insurance payment of up to Rs. 10 lakh, ex-gratia up to Rs. 10 lakh, special Family pension as well as a government job to a member of the family and a piece of homestead land.
SOG works directly under the director of intelligence of Orissa police, normally a DG-ranked IPS officer. Described as a compact force, the SOG is modelled on the Greyhound force of Andhra Pradesh.
The 2200-odd personnel are mostly drawn from the State police. The average age is 35. The force is led by a Commandant with several deputy commandants under him. The commandos undergo 13-weeks of specialised commando training in the expansive SOG training centre of Chandaka on the outskirts of Bhubaneswar. Some training is also held in other places like Institute of IED Management in Talegaon, Pune.
The training syallabus drawn from that of the Greyhounds consists of reflex shooting (shooting the enemy within 1 second of sighting) , ability to stay in jungles and using GPS and reading toposheets. Even new IPS officers undergo 13-week training including 8 week assault training on the field at Chandaka centre.