Days ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Dantewada on May 9, the Ministry of Home Affairs has asked the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) to step up operations in Chhattisgarh.
In a recent meeting chaired by home secretary L C Goyal in Delhi, the CRPF was told to conduct more “intelligence driven operations” and work in close coordination with the local police.
In the meeting — held in the wake of the April 11 Sukma encounter in which seven special task force personnel were killed by alleged Maoists — the CRPF was also told to create an Inspector General’s post in Bastar division. “We have asked the CRPF to increase the scale of operations. After the December 1 encounter, in which 13 CRPF men were killed, there has hardly been any major operation,” a Home Ministry official said.
CRPF director general Prakash Mishra, however, said operations were on in full swing.
The ministry official said that since a third of the CRPF’s strength was deployed in Chhattisgarh, it made sense to create a senior post in Bastar. The CRPF currently has one IG rank officer posted in Raipur. The force has 25 battalions, including two CoBRA units, stationed in the state. A total of 48,000 personnel, including state police officials, are engaged in the fight against Maoists.
The CRPF said that after the December 1 incident in south Bastar’s Kalaspar area, it had engaged in 24 encounters and 63 operations against Maoists. It added that 44 Maoists had surrendered since the attack.
The government had sanctioned 10 more battalions for Bastar last year. Five of these, comprising 5,000 men, have been deployed in the state so far.
In 2014, Chhattisgarh CM Raman Singh, in a presentation to Home Minister Rajnath Singh, had emphasised the need to focus on south Bastar, which shares its boundary with three states — Maharashtra, Odisha and Andhra Pradesh.