Young men from a small constabulary unit in the Orissa police,the District Voluntary Force not more than 500 strong,played a key role in the operation that saw the killing of 13 Maoists in Malkangiri Saturday. SP Akhileswar Singh had led the team of DVF and Special Operations Group men on foot through the Sialkota forest until they spotted the Maoist camp.
The DVF works in small formations,around eight to 10 in an operation,and on familiar terrain. Around 40 per cent of them are former SOG jawans as no one can work in SOG after the age of 35. The rest are local boys picked on the basis of their skills by the district SP. Since they know the local terrain and speak the local dialect,they have a head start on other forces who come from other districts, said an official.
Their basic pay is 30 per cent higher than that of the rest,but in all other respects they look like any other policemen,with no additional lapels or badges. Headed by district SPs,the force was raised in 2009 and has since been involved in a number of successful operations (see box).
It has proved a very effective force against Maoists. A force is as good as its strike rate and DVF has ensured we stay ahead of Maoists, says Prakash Mishra,Orissa DGP.
Though there are eight BSF battalions,eight CRPF battalions,a COBRA battalion and 57 SOG teams in Orissa,officials say it is the DVF that provides the cutting edge. It was raised because senior officials found it took too long to initiate an purely SOG-based operation as orders have to come from Bhubaneswar. A DVF operation involves no such formalities as the SP at the head can start the operation.
In DVF,some constables would collect intelligence while others are meant strictly for the operation. When the chief minister visits Maoist areas,the innermost security cordon comprises DVF personnel, an official said.
Though the SOG gets anti-extremist training at a police special school at Chandaka and tactical training at the Army base in Jabalpur,it is not always familiar with the terrain. But the DVF,too,has its limitations. When the number of Maoists is high,we have to send SOG forces to prevent casualties from our side, the official said.
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