The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Rebels focus on recruitment, Centre plans intelligence rejig

June 24: Even when the Maoists are planning for a mega recruitment drive in several states, the Centre has decided to rejig the intelligence machinery of both Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh to tackle the red menace.

The decision came after a senior team of the Intelligence Bureau visited the two states to study the intelligence network of local police.

After giving green signal to Chhattisgarh’s plan to go for an intelligence revamp costing Rs 4.6cr, the Union home ministry has asked the Jharkhand government to submit a similar proposal. “Jharkhand had submitted a proposal earlier. After vetting it with the help of Intelligence Bureau, we have sent it back to the state government along with proposed changes. The state government is now expected to get back to us,” said an official at the Naxal Wing of the Union home ministry.

The intelligence revamp plan not only entails changes in surveillance equipment, but also talks about IB officials working in close co-ordination with the state police’s intelligence wing to make them proficient in the shadow art.

Zooming in on Chhattisgarh, the Centre has decided to send Vishwaranjan, a senior IB official, as the director-general of police there.

He will be the second IB official, expert in left wing extremism, to be posted to Chhattisgarh within a year’s time, with the first being former IB director E.S.L. Narsimhan who was made the governor of Chhattisgarh.

Meanwhile, the rebels have taken a decision to step up their recruitment exercise in remote areas of all the states, including Jharkhand, where they have strong base along the corridor from Nepal to Andhra Pradesh.

Of late, every year, claimed a senior police officer quoting the Union home ministry officials, the rebels are losing over 1,500 cadres on an average from different states. The loss is mainly due to arrests or deaths due to police firing. There have also been cases where rebels have given up arms to join the mainstream.

According to police sources, the recruitment drive has taken off in remote parts of Giridih, Bokaro, West Singhbhum, Chatra, Palamau, Koderma, Seraikela-Kharsawan and even rural pockets of Ranchi.

According to additional director-general of police (special branch) Gauri Shanker Rath, recruiting rural youths rather than elders is now the top priority of the rebels. “The top brass of the Maoists are of the opinion that inducting youths, both male and female, are of great advantage. The rural youths are more dedicated and continue to serve the group for long, seldom involve themselves in funds embezzlement and would serve for a long time.”

In Chhattisgarh, a separate battalion of Special Task Force (STF) would be raised to deal with the Naxalites. The jawans would be specially trained in jungle warfare to combat the rebels having its “territories” in the forest pockets. “Colonel Rajneesh Sharma, currently serving in the insurgency-hit Kashmir, has been asked to head the battalion,” said a senior state home department official.

He added that Colonel Sharma would quit the army to join on a contract for five years. He would be designated as STF Commandant with a rank of deputy inspector-general of police.

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