'Operations Have to Be Taken More Seriously'
With its 83 deployed battalions, or 87,482 personnel, the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) is the single largest stakeholder in India’s anti-Naxal operations. Yatish Yadav speaks to CRPF’s Director General Prakash Mishra whose challenge is to contain Naxal violence. Excerpts:
On anti-Naxal strategy.
The fact that states are taking initiatives in anti-Naxal operations is a big step. One has to see that all these operations are happening when we go into their area, rather than they (Maoists) coming and hitting the camps. That phase is over now. This is a transitional phase and operations have to be taken more seriously.
On lull in the offensive.
Not at all. In fact, the numbers of anti-Naxal operations have gone up. We are launching tactical operations and most of the operations are successful; CRPF casualty incidents have drastically come down. The tactical, intelligence-based operation is a huge success.
On CRPF’s future roadmap.
Our future strategy is to have better roads in the affected areas. The area in Sukma where the attack took place doesn’t have road networks. This is causing a lot of problems, not only for the forces but also for developmental projects. Our focus is now to help in building the infrastructure in affected states, provide more facilities for people in the areas, including medicines. Forces are working proactively and there would be more and more surrenders of Naxals in the coming times.
On more death of jawans due to illness than in action.
We have controlled malaria deaths to a large extent. It has come down drastically and no casualty was reported in the recent past. But, yes, living conditions for jawans have to improve and we have asked for some money. Some amount has been received. We are improving living conditions in barracks and camps. Living in inhospitable terrains is very difficult. To overcome this, we want to rotate the companies deployed in hard areas so that at least two companies at a time can come out of areas like Chintagufa and be deployed at a soft area like district headquarters.
On gaps in state intelligence networks.
Actually the best intelligence comes from the state governments. From the SPs and police stations, as they are in touch with the ground. Our effort always is to coordinate with SPs in our operations. We want to set up development centres at our CRPF company hubs and definitely the intelligence flow will improve. In some areas, there are gaps due to absence of a functional police station, and administration has to collect and disseminate inputs.