The Telegraph
Saturday , June 28 , 2014
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Greyhound bite to combat Naxalites
- Centre offers funds for crack force

The Centre has asked the Bihar government to create a special police force on the lines of the elite Greyhound squad raised by Andhra Pradesh to deal with Maoists operating in the state.

The directive came at a meeting of chief secretaries and directors-general of police of Naxalite-affected states convened by Union home minister Rajnath Singh in New Delhi on Friday.

Bihar chief secretary Ashok Kumar Sinha, principal secretary, home, Amir Subhani and newly appointed director-general of police Pramod Kumar Thakur attended the meeting, the first on the Naxalite problem since the new government took charge at the Centre.

In the assessment of states in tackling Naxalism, Bihar and Jharkhand have fared “poor” while Odisha and Maharashtra were marked “best”. Chhattisgarh, which includes the Maoist hotbed of Bastar, has “scope for improvement”.

Rajnath lent a push to the previous government’s plan for “special forces” in the states. “We want to develop special forces on a par with the Greyhounds for Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Odisha, entirely funded by Centre,” an official said. The special forces would be trained specifically to fight the Naxalites.

Sources in the Bihar police headquarters said the Centre has assured Bihar to provide financial support in raising the force.

“The state should equip its security forces to reduce dependence on central para-military forces in its operations against the rebels,” a senior police officer said.

Thakur, on being asked about the outcome of the meeting, said: “The meeting laid emphasis on better coordination between the central para-military forces and the state police in dealing with the Maoist menace. The operation against the rebels would continue.”

The meeting also stressed the need to augment development work in the areas identified as Maoist-affected.

“The security forces should extend their support to the agencies engaged in carrying out development work in those areas,” Thakur added.

If former home minister P. Chidambaram had a two-pronged strategy to deal with Maoists, Rajnath has a four-pronged one.

The minister unfolded a four-pronged approach at the meeting, which was also the first attended by officials from the new state of Telangana. Revealing that the government favours a hard-nosed approach, the home minister is understood to have also drawn red lines on engagement.

“We can’t initiate talks,” he is understood to have told the officials. “Let’s do it together and get them,” the home minister is understood to have indicated.

Singh’s four prongs — with caveats on negotiations — include security and development on which the UPA government focused.

In addition, he told state officials that entitlement for tribals by giving them land pattas — a legal document issued by the government in the name of the actual owner of a particular plot of land — and “perception management” should also become cornerstones.

Although the latter two were part of the method Chidambaram followed as home minister, Singh appeared to have buttressed their importance in relation to security and development.

The Centre is considering relaxing the norms for tribals to get land pattas in forests.

Perception management has been re-visited as a component of the anti-Naxalite strategy with more funds on the way for “weaning away young people” from the CPI (Maoist) outfit.

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