In a first of its kind initiative, the CRPF has begun training its troops in dialects, customs and traditions practised by tribals and locals in Jharkhand as part of a special program aimed to gather vital intelligence against Naxal operatives and build a camaraderie with the local population.
The Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) is the lead anti-Naxal operations force in the country and has deployed 20 battalions (about 20,000 troops) in the tribal dominated state to conduct armed operations against the Left Wing Extremists (LWE) or Maoists.
To start with, the force has decided to impart basic knowledge about the ‘way of life’ of tribals to at least 1,200 troops as part of a capsule course that also entails a special visit to weekly fairs and cultural programmes of the local area.
“We are deployed in the remotest locations of the state where a jawan and officer has interaction with tribals and locals of the area on a regular basis. Due to lack of knowledge of the local dialect it is very difficult to gather information and also to conduct civic welfare programmes for locals and hence this initiative was thought about,” Inspector General (operations) of the CRPF in Jharkhand Sanjay A Lathkar told PTI.
It is proposed to initially train about 60 personnel in each battalion in understanding and speaking local dialects of the state like ‘ho’, ‘santhali’, ‘nagpuri’, ‘kurukh’, ‘sadri’, ‘bhojpuri’ and few others apart from learning the customs and traditions of the tribals, the IG said.
These personnel will further train more men in their units and this will go a long way in establishing a friendly and trust bond between security forces and locals, he added.
Security forces have acknowledged that not knowing the local knowledge in LWE violence affected states has been one the biggest obstacles, apart from good information about the local terrain, in achieving maximum successes in anti-Naxal operations. It is now planned that this initiative will soon be implemented by central security forces in other states hit by LWE violence like Chhattisgarh, Odisha and parts of Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh.
CRPF’s 197th battalion based in the Saranda forests of Jharkhand has taken the first lead and has begun a capsule course for these subjects. “We have roped in expert trainers who are school teachers and officer bearers of local cultural organisations to train our personnel. Some of our troops who hail from the state and know the local cultures, traditions and dialects are also part of this panel of trainers,” Commanding Officer (CO) of the battalion Parma Shivam said.
“We have also purchased books written in the ‘ho’ language that are used to train the personnel. Troops under this training are also sent to a weekly fair called ‘shani parv’ to observe customs, traditions, eating and sartorial habits of tribals and locals, the CO said.
IG Lathkar said they are very hopeful that “in few years this initiative will give the security forces good dividends in making friends with locals, winning their trust and getting intelligence and information against Naxal operatives and groups.”
These trained personnel of the CRPF, a senior official supervising LWE operations from Delhi said, can also be used by the intelligence wing of the security forces and snoop agencies to better prepare for operations awareness in their local areas.