The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Black Cats for Bihar

New Delhi, Nov. 16: When the big cats fail, bring on the Black Cats.

The Centre is despatching two squadrons of the National Security Guards to track down the Maoists who raided Jehanabad jail ' the first instance of the elite force being deployed in an operation against Naxalites.

The unusual move displays the desperation of the Centre ' Bihar is under its rule now ' to send a message of reassurance to the state and betrays a lack of confidence in the local police, a senior officer of which has been suspended.

As many as 280 commandos of the NSG will be sent to Bihar tomorrow. A squadron (140 members) of the Special Rangers Group and another of the Special Action Group have been picked for the mission.

The strike force, drawn from paramilitary troops, will operate under the command of a brigadier.

On the eve of the landing of the commandos, security forces in Bihar have launched a combing operation that is being billed the biggest anti-extremist drive the state has seen. Named “Operation Hot Pursuit”, the hunt has roped in five helicopters but till late tonight it has drawn a blank.

Realising that the central commandos are unlikely to make much headway on unfamiliar territory without the help of local forces, the Centre has sought the assistance of the special task force of Bihar. The state wing will play the role of a secondary force during the combing operation, a source said.

“The squadrons are fully equipped with the combat and surveillance equipment necessary to carry out such an operation. We already have some information and our boys will pick up the rest from Bihar on their own,” said special secretary (internal security) A.K. Mitra, who holds additional charge of the NSG.

Mitra is also leaving for Bihar tomorrow where he will be joined by K.T.D Singh, the inspector general (operations) of the CRPF.

To avert a repeat of the Jehanabad jailbreak, Mitra has asked the Bihar chief secretary to shift key Naxalite prisoners in the state to the high-security Beur jail.

“At present, we have a three-fold, short-term strategy ' arrest those who were involved in the jailbreak, recover the abducted Ranbir Sena members and trace the escaped prisoners,” Mitra said.

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