Flushing out extremists from Maoist-affected zones is one of the top priorities of Pranay Sahay,who is set to take over as chief of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF). And he wants to achieve that cutting down the number of casualties suffered in Maoist operations by the force that remains the largest paramilitary unit engaged in anti-terror and anti-Maoist operations in the country.
The 1975-batch IPS officer of Tripura-Manipur cadre and the current director general of the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB),Sahay has been holding additional charge of the CRPF since predecessor K Vijay Kumar retired on September 30. Now the Appointments Committee of Cabinet (ACC) has okayed his appointment as the CRPF DG.
Every second jawan of the three jawans killed during anti-Maoist operations dies in an IED blast. This has to stop, Sahay said in an interview to The Indian Express. More emphasis would be laid on reducing the number of jawans who are killed due to underground mines, he added.
He is expected to hold the top CRPF post till his retirement in July next year. He brings to the post a vast experience of working in Central paramilitary forces,having had stints in the CISF,BSF as well as the CRPF earlier as the ADG (north zone) in 2007-2008.
Another matter on Sahays priority list is recruitment of more women personnel. The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has directed all Central armed police forces to have at least 5 per cent women personnel in their ranks.
The CRPF is a large force. The women component in the force according to me is roughly only four-five battalions. By 2015,we aim to increase the number of women personnel and bring it to 5 per cent. We will initiate the recruitment process and see it to it that the women get meatier roles, said Sahay.
The challenge for the new DG,however,will remain matching up to the performance of Kumar,under whom the CRPF had managed to regain large tracts of area in West Bengal,Orissa and Jharkhand from Maoist control.
In an interview last month to this newspaper,Kumar had admitted that at least 4,000 sq km area in Chhattisgarh and 2,000 sq km in Orissa still remained under the direct control of Maoists,with no government or development work reaching there.
Our focus will be to maximise our operations in the LWE areas. The momentum is not going to drop and we will increase the offensive. In the past fortnight,even when I was holding additional charge of the force,there was no slowing down of operations. We conducted many operations even then, said Sahay.
The officer said they were also keeping a close watch on the situation in Jammu and Kashmir where the CRPF is deployed. The insurgency situation in the Northeast,Sahay added,remained by and large under control.
While 80 CRPF battalions (about 80,000 personnel) are engaged in anti-Naxal operations,it is also fighting militancy in Jammu and Kashmir and the Northeast.