January 15, 2009 10:25:52 am
The government will begin withdrawal of its Central forces from Orissa’s Kandhamal District in a phased manner from Thursday.
The Central forces had to be deployed in Kandhmal following the communal violence was triggered after murder of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) leader and anti-conversion leader Lakshmananand Saraswati.
“A communication from the Union Home Ministry stated that withdrawal of 53 companies of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and Rapid Action Force from Orissa would start in a phased manner from January 15”,said Orissa’s Home Secretary A.P. Padhi.
“At least ten companies would be pulled out in consultation with the Orissa police in the first-phase that begins January 15,” Padhi had said while adding that “Ten more companies would be withdrawn in February and the remainder by the end of March this year.”
At least 40 companies of the Central forces comprising about 4,000 personnel are at present stationed in Kandhamal district and the remaining 13 in several other sensitive areas of the state.
Though the Central forces were to stay in Orissa till December 31,2008,on a Supreme Court order,Orissa’s Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had written to the Centre urging extension of the deployment till January 31,said sources.
The Chief Minister had subsequently demanded deployment of 2,000 personnel in riot-hit Kandhamal till the end of the coming general elections.
The step to withdraw the forces in a phased manner has come up as per the Orissa Chief Minister’s request to the Govt.,which he had stated during the Chief Ministers’ conference on internal security earlier this month.
Earlier this month,Patnaik had stated that the State Government was severely handicapped by lack of resources in terms of money,men and material to fight extremism.
Patnaik had informed that the situation in Kandhamal was under control,but a complete normalcy could be restored only after all persons in the relief camps returned home.
Stating that his government favoured phased withdrawal of forces from Kandhamal,the Chief Minister had said it should be carried out over the next three months.
Seeking six more battalions of CRPF for deployment in 17 Maoist-affected districts,Patnaik has asked the Centre to provide a dedicated helicopter at Bhubaneswar for aerial reconnaissance of Naxal bastions,evacuation of injured personnel and quick movement of forces.
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