CRPF shifts strategic command centre for anti-Maoist ops from Kolkata to Raipur.
New Delhi: Union home minister Rajnath Singh will chair a high-level meeting with the chief ministers of 10 Naxal-infested states here Monday, where the CMs will be joined by top security and intelligence officials both from the Centre and the states.
The conclave will discuss ways to revamp intelligence-gathering, take a close look at the operations against Naxalites, identify problem areas and devise ways to minimise casualties among the security forces.
In a tactical move, the CRPF has shifted its strategic command headquarters for anti-Naxal operations from Kolkata to the Maoist heartland of Chhattisgarh, and it will now operate out of Raipur. A decision has already been taken to launch a massive offensive against Naxal outfits after 37 CRPF personnel were killed in the last two months in the state.
Monday’s meeting in New Delhi will be attended by the chief ministers of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha, West Bengal, Bihar, Maharashtra, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh. Sources said the meeting will focus primarily on evolving a new strategy to deal with the Naxalites. It will aim to ensure the maximum damage is inflicted on the top Maoist leadership in the months ahead. In addition, development work, particularly road construction in Naxal-dominated areas, will also be discussed in detail.
Home ministry officials have so far claimed that nearly 90 per cent of Naxal activity has been confined to 35 districts in the country, while their area of influence is across nearly 68 districts in 10 states.
The CRPF, the sources added, has already decided to immediately shift its central zone command centre from Kolkata to Raipur as some districts of Chhattisgarh have emerged as the main areas of Naxal activity, as seen in the recent killing of CRPF personnel in Sukma.
Citing connectivity and logistics issues, the CRPF had decided to shift the ops centre from Raipur to Kolkata about seven years back. The CRPF’s new chief, Rajeev Rai Bhatnagar, had directed that the command centre be moved back to Raipur before Monday’s meeting.
Following this directive, CRPF additional DG Kuldeep Singh rushed to Raipur and took charge of the command on Friday. The CRPF’s central zone was formed in 2009 with the sole purpose of monitoring the deployment of forces and operations against Naxals in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha, Bihar and West Bengal.
After the Dantewada attack in July 2010, in which 75 CRPF personnel were killed, the command centre was shifted to Kolkata following reports of poor rail and air connectivity. Now the home ministry feels the command headquarters should based in the most Naxal-infested area as it would help launch a faster counter-offensive. Recent Naxal attacks have proved it remains the biggest internal security challenge for the security forces.
From Raipur, the command ops centre will coordinate joint operations with the Indian Air Force, Border Security Force, Indo-Tibetan Border Police and the respective state police forces.
The issue of such joint operations and a greater role for the state police, particularly sharing of local intelligence, will also be taken up at the meeting on Monday. Sources said the MHA was keen state police forces should have a bigger and more active role in anti-Naxal operations, and they should not depend only on Central forces.