Army reluctant to enter Naxal ops

Written by Political Bureau | New Delhi | Updated: Jun 4 2010, 04:03am hrs
Ahead of the crucial Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) meeting to be held this week, home minister P Chidambaram had met with Army top brass last Friday in an attempt to know their mind on the question of involving the Army in anti-Naxal operations.

According to top sources, the Army has made it very clear that they are reluctant to enter the fray. The Army expressed its reluctance to withdraw any of the Rashtriya Rifles from their present deployment in Jammu and Kashmir and the North East. There are at present roughly 60 battalions of the RR in Kashmir at the moment. The Army made it clear that these would not be touched and if the home ministry was really desperate for help then additional battallions should be raised, said a source. This suggestion has been put on hold.

In fact, the home ministry then proposed that the Army could be used for at least training the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel deployed in Naxal-affected areas and other state police outfits.

A Cabinet note to this effect has been prepared by the home ministry which talks of setting up a unified command to deal with Naxal terror headed by an IPS officer. A centralised training centre has also been proposed to train personnel in guerilla and other kinds of warfare. Special training for de-mining areas will also be part of it.

Air power has also been proposed for rescue, reconnaissance and evacuation. The Centre may be keen on the Armys involvement in anti-Naxal operations, but the CPI(M) which is in power in the Naxal-affected state of West Bengal said that they were opposed to any involvement of the Army.

The Army should be there purely for safeguarding our borders and not for dealing with internal security issues, CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury said. At the CCS meeting even defence minister AK Antony is expected to bat for the armys point of view.