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Bastar: CRPF tribal battalion to counter Maoists threat in Chhattisgarh

The proposal to raise such a battalion was mooted by CRPF four months ago to wean away unemployed tribals from the Maoist movement in Bastar, which is the worst-affected district in terms of left-wing extremist violence.

Written by Deeptiman Tiwary | New Delhi |
Updated: July 12, 2016 11:53:55 am
CRPF tribal battalion, Maoists, CRPF, Raman Singh, tribal battalion, Bastar tribal battalion, Chhattisgarh maoists issue, Dandakaranya battalion, Naxal-infested states, chhattisgarh raman singh, dandakaranya battalion, naga regiment, indian army, civil military, Ministry of Home Affairs, india news The battalion, to be raised by CRPF, will be stationed in Bastar for the first five years. (File Photo)

THE Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has given the green signal for a tribal battalion drawn from Bastar in Chhattisgarh to counter the threat from Maoists in the region, official sources told The Indian Express.

The battalion, to be raised by CRPF, will be stationed in Bastar for the first five years, they said.

The government has also relaxed physical requirements for recruitment to this battalion to ensure that more tribals pass the mandatory qualification tests.

The proposal to raise such a battalion was mooted by CRPF four months ago to wean away unemployed tribals from the Maoist movement in Bastar, which is the worst-affected district in terms of left-wing extremist violence.

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WATCH VIDEO: First Only-Tribal CRPF Battalion In Naxal Zone Soon

 

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Early this month, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh, too, had flagged the need for a battalion for which personnel are recruited solely from Naxal-affected districts. Singh had, in fact, demanded a Dandakaranya battalion covering various Naxal-infested states.

“Home Minister Rajnath Singh has given the go-ahead to the CRPF proposal of having a Bastar battalion as it is the worst-affected district and has the poorest representation in the security forces,” said sources.

A similar battalion had been raised by CRPF in the Northeast in the 1990s. “But this will be the first-of-its-kind move in the Naxal zone,” said an official.

Sources said the move will enhance security operations, as tribals in the region have knowledge of the terrain, access to local intelligence and are better suited to fight in the region.

The government had earlier tried to recruit tribals through quotas in each battalion. But this move has not been very successful with vacancies piling up.

“The problem is that though physical requirements for recruits in the tribal quota are relaxed, they are still enlisted on the basis of an all-India standard. Bastar tribals are generally shorter and very lean. So even though requirements were relaxed, they could rarely make it despite rampant unemployment in the tribal zone,” said a senior CRPF officer.

“(For the proposed Bastar battalion), the height requirement has been reduced from 160 cm to 155.5 cm. Similarly, chest measurement has been capped at 73.5 cm instead of 75 cm. There is relaxation in weight, too,” said an official.

Sources said the Chhattisgarh police, too, have raised a unit from among tribals. “The physical requirements have been further relaxed for that unit. For example, the height requirement has been kept at 150 cm. But since the CRPF battalion will have to eventually be deployed out of Chhattisgarh as well, such a steep relaxation in requirements was not advised,” said the official.

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