July 31, 2009 9:32:19 am
With Defence Minister A K Antony giving the green signal for a new Army brigade headquarters in Raipur in Naxalite-hit Chhattisgarh,the stage is being set for the military,particularly the Rashtriya Rifles (RR),to join counter-Naxalite operations.
Raised in 1990 to fight counter-insurgency in Kashmir,the 80,000-strong RR has been operating on a temporary mandate under the Indian Army. Before this mandate expires in September,the Ministry of Defence is moving the CCS to allow RR to be deployed nationwide for counter-insurgency operations. A key step towards this came last week with Home Minister P Chidambarams nod allowing a permanent mandate for the RR.
The establishment of a sub-area command in Raipur and a manoeuvering range at Bilaspur along with a training facility for Special Forces means that troops will be stationed in Chhattisgarh as part of confidence-building operations.
Sources said that Eastern Army Commander Lt General V K Singh,in line to become Army Chief next year,has been sensitized by the government on the possibility of RR involvement in Naxal operations.
A total of 231 security personnel have been killed by Naxalites this year over ten times the casualties in J&K and North-East put together. The other key decisions taken to beef up anti-Naxal operations:
1. An Army Brigadier has been deputed to the Home Ministry to advise on operations
2. Some CRPF units fighting Naxals will be de-inducted and trained in guerilla warfare with select Army infantry units
3. A Major-General rank officer (GOC),with counter-insurgency experience and stationed in the Valley,who was sent to Naxalite areas to study their operations,has submitted a report to the MoD.
4. Talks with the IAF for evacuation of special forces behind Naxal-dominated lines in armed helicopters.
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