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State to have its own Greyhounds

New Delhi, Jan. 16: Naxalites spread over four states in the east will soon have a new adversary to reckon with, now that special forces on the lines of the Greyhounds are to join police lines within six months.

The expenditure committee of the finance ministry sanctioned Rs 280 crore yesterday for the home ministry proposal for Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Odisha that has been pending since the last year.

The Greyhounds, considered to be the principal factor behind pushing back Naxalites from Andhra Pradesh, will not only serve as a model but also offer former and serving officers as trainers for the special forces.

The Greyhounds was formed in 1989 with commando training and background information about Naxalite philosophy and tactics. In a departure from the conventional hierarchical structure of police forces, the Greyhounds are a leveller. A deputy superintendent of police may be trained by a constable and a sub-inspector may carry an AK-47, while his senior may be allowed only a pistol.

“It is on the basis of how good the man is. Not on seniority,” a former Greyhounds officer said.

Moving around in teams of 18-24 men, commandos belonging to the Greyhounds boast a high strike rate against Maoists. “It is their operational and hierarchical structure, vastly different from other conventional structures, that the four states will need to adapt the most,” the official said.

The sanctioned funds, under the head of “scheme for special infrastructure”, will be distributed equally among the four states. Each state will get around Rs 56 crore, sources told The Telegraph. A fourth of the total expenditure will be borne by the states. “The project will include provision of modern weaponry and solid training from the Greyhounds,” a source added.

The home ministry has appointed Brigadier Sanjay Agarwal, attached to the Naxal management division, to oversee training in the four states.

Although violence levels since 2001 in Naxalite states have been at its lowest in 2012, the Centre has seen an opportunity to beef up forces when the Maoists are on the run. In recent operations in Jharkhand, CRPF jawans were killed but 1,000 more troops have been inducted to step up the heat against rebels.

Of the nine Naxal-affected states, Bihar and Jharkhand are in need of such a special force the most. “Odisha has performed the best in this regard,” said a government source.

But, setting up the special force in Bihar might be problematic. For, it doesn’t have a police training institute. Also, it has various hurdles concerning land acquisition.