Anti-Naxal ops: Retired armymen to train CRPF

New Delhi: The government has decided to recruit more than 2000 retired Army personnel to help the CRPF gain expertise in crippling IEDs and hidden landmines while undertaking anti-Naxal operations.

The retired Army personnel and officers, including those from the Sappers regiment who specialise in this job, will soon be deputed with each of the 62 battalions of the force deployed for countering Naxals in various states.

The Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), the lead force for the offensive against Naxalites in the country, has lost more about 150 personnel in various IED and landmine explosions in the Naxal zones during the last year.

"The improvised explosive devices and hidden landmines have become a reason for worry amongst the forces operating in the Naxal-affected regions. The landmines in certain cases were planted more than 30 feets below the ground which could not be detected by gadgets or sniffer dogs," a senior CRPF officer said.

Each of the 62 battalions of the CRPF, including two of the specialised Commando Battalion for Resolute Action (CoBRA), will have 35 of these officers each, he said.

As many as 434 retired junior commissioned officers (JCOs) and 1,736 non-commissioned officers will be inducted into the force soon and will inturn train the company commanders of the strike units to detect and defuse these hidden mines, the officer said.

The ex-Army personnel will also train the CRPF men to efficiently use equipment that have been procured to detect IEDs and landmines. "However, these gadgets are hardly of any use as landmines are planted deep in the earth, beyond the reach of these equipment," he said.

The officer said the former JCOs abnd NCOs will provide expertise to the CRPF units to have the upper hand in dealing with the IEDs and conduct casualty-free strikes in the Naxal terrain.

According to Home Ministry figures, a total of 10,268 casualties have been reported between 2005 and May 2010 due to Naxal violence. Out of these, 2,372 deaths were reported in 2009 as against 1,769 in 2008 and 1,737 in 2007.

A total of 1,999 civilians and security men lost their lives in 2006 and 1,952 others in 2005. As many as 439 people were killed between January and May this year, the data said.

A total of 83 districts in nine States — Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal — have been identified as Naxal-hit.