The CRPF has ordered “immediate” shifting of the command headquarters of the force’s central zone from Kolkata to Raipur, seven years after it was shifted to Kolkata due to connectivity issues in Raipur. Officials said that newly appointed CRPF Director General Rajeev Rai Bhatnagar had been asked to ensure that the command begins functioning from Raipur before the high-level meeting of Left Wing Extremism (LWE)-hit states in New Delhi on Monday. The meeting will be chaired by Home Minister Rajnath Singh.
After the order was issued on Thursday, CRPF ADG (Central Zone) Kuldeep Singh was air-dashed to Raipur and he took charge of the command on Friday.
The central zone, an operational field formation, was set up on August 7, 2009. Headquartered in Raipur, it was given the responsibility of deployment of CRPF troops in the entire ‘Red belt’ of states hit by Naxalite violence including West Bengal, Jharkhand, Bihar, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. Uttar Pradesh has been largely free from Naxalite violence in the last few years.
The headquarters was moved to Kolkata in July 2010 after the Dantewada attack exposed the problem of poor rail and air connectivity in Raipur. On April 6, 2010, 75 CRPF personnel and a Chhattisgarh Police constable were killed in the attack by Maoists.
“The idea is to base the command headquarters where the exact fight and the LWE challenge is. The ministry felt that having this strategic office, headed by an ADG-rank officer, in far-off Kolkata was not serving the purpose of strategising quick, intelligence-based and coordinated offensives against Naxalites in the area where they are posing the biggest threat to internal security of the country,” a senior officer said.
The command office has been tasked with strategising on launching joint operations with the IAF, BSF, ITBP and state police along the southern tip of Bastar in Chhattisgarh, adjoining Odisha, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh — all of which are affected by Maoist violence.