RAIPUR: In a major initiative to beef-up its strategy against the left-wing extremism in the red zone of Chhattisgarh, the state government has raised four exclusive battalions of local youths-- comprising tribal persons--from the seven restive districts of Bastar region and Rajnandgaon adjoining Maharashtra’s Gadchiroli. They will be joining next month.
The plan approved by the state government and funded initially by the Centre will soon see local youths as India Reserve (IR) Battalion commando force engaged in the guerrilla warfare tactics. Nearly 12-day long physical qualification tests were held followed by written exam simultaneously in each district as part of the recruitment drive in which the applicants had to apply only from their native district.
“Around 4000 candidates have been selected for four IR battalions. It will give more teeth to the forces in its operations against the outlawed CPI (Maoist). The local recruits will help the anti-Maoist campaign in a big way as they are familiar with the geographical topography, the region’s culture and the language”, the additional director general of police (CAF, STF & Training) Sanjay Pillay told the New Indian Express.
Every district gets fair representation in the overall selection process, which was also held in north Sarguja range. With the addition of four, the Chhattisgarh will now have 13 IR battalions.
Senior police officers were delighted to watch the enthusiasm among the aspirants from the tribal belts. “Being local, they will be beneficial to gather human intelligence which is of paramount importance in the battle against Naxals.
Besides, giving employment locally will also secure the trust of masses”, affirmed Kanker (North Bastar) deputy inspector general Ratanlal Dangi, who has earlier served as the police chief of three districts in Bastar.
The eagerness among the young youths, who are gearing-up to undergo rigorous training sessions, appears high. “As only the locals were given preference in recruitment, the competition was not fierce but the real challenge for us lies ahead,” said Ramprasad Nag (26) and Indra Kumar (22), selected as constables.
“In guerrilla warfare, the local population has to be at the centre of gravity. Such approach will alleviate the trust-deficit with the forces. We have recently seen the Sukma tribal villagers for whatever reasons came out in support of the outlawed and the forces didn’t get the expected cooperation from rural inhabitants”, said Brigadier (Retd) B K Ponwar.
The upcoming training for new recruits will be held at Counter Insurgency Anti-Terrorism (CIAT) schools at Jagdalpur, Raipur, Rajnandgaon and Bilaspur for nine weeks and later at Kanker-based counter terrorism and the Jungle Warfare College for six weeks before they are deployed for the operations in the field, the additional director general informed.