The 'Bastariya' battalion derives its name from the region called Bastar in Southern Chattisgarh, which borders Andra Pradesh, Telangana and Odisha. The battalion is instituted to deploy special security forces to carry out operations where the security personnel were not able to carry out successful operations against Maoists due to lack of resources and intelligence.
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh commissioned the much awaited ‘Bastariya Battalion’ of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and presided over the grand Passing out Parade of the new recruits in Ambikapur in Chattisgarh today. Speaking at the ceremony, Rajnath Singh said, “Left-wing extremists do not want development to reach the underdeveloped areas, and many of the left extremist leaders have made a lot of money through illegal means and our government will ensure that this is exposed”. The Home Minister welcomed the move to constitute the Bastariya Battalion and also appealed to the youth of Bastar to come join the battalion.
The security personnel from Bastariya Battalion will be deployed in innermost areas of Bastar to carry out anti-Maoist operations in Chattisgarh. The battalion comprises a total of 534 security personnel with 33 percent representation from women. This move by the CRPF is also in sync with the government’s policy to have 33 per cent reservation for women. The members of the Bastariya battalion mainly comprise of youth from high Maoist infested areas like Bijapur, Narayanpur, Sukma and Dantewada of Chattisgarh.
The battalion which is numbered 241, has 534 troopers in total which include 189 female recruits. The recruits were trained for 44 weeks in specialised jungle warfare, weapons training, bomb diffusing techniques, guerilla warfare, unarmed combat, camouflage, surviving in the jungle and were also taught about police laws. “Instituting a battalion like Bastariya aims at to end the challenges of Naxal menace and the CRPF has ensured that there is 40-50 percent decrease in the geographical expanse of Left Wing Extremism”, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh added.
Speaking to the Financial Express Online, PV Ramana, Research Fellow at IDSA who specialises on Naxalite-Maoist movement in India said, “The most important thing about initiating a special battalion such as Bastariya is that it will create demonstration effect on the local youth. Since the security personnel mainly consists of local youth, the villagers will be positively influenced by them to join the security forces and this would also result in fewer people joining the Naxal forces”.
The ‘Bastariya’ battalion derives its name from the region called Bastar in Southern Chattisgarh, which borders Andra Pradesh, Telangana and Odisha. The battalion is instituted to deploy special security forces to carry out operations where the security personnel were not able to carry out successful operations against Maoists due to lack of resources and intelligence. The personnel from Bastariya battalion will be specialising in techniques through training and familiarisation of the Maoist geographic expanse. The training will include maps reading, connectivity and networking with the locals and also intelligence gathering.
The Bastariya battalion will not just help in extensive anti-Maoist operations due to the specialised skill set of local villagers who have joined the forces. It will also help in building ancillary units of trade and logistics which will help the security forces. It will also initiate massive economic activity in the region. “The battalion is based in Bastar, the heartland of Naxal movement. Earlier the army had also conducted recruitment rallies in Bastar. If more and more local join the security forces, then their families will also look up to them. Apart from this, the families of the villagers who have joined the battalion will also benefit economically. There are given good salaries and medical care as well”, Ramana added.
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh had reached the Ambikapur camp of CRPF yesterday after attending an event at Satna in Madhya Pradesh. Singh also awarded the best performers of the new Bastariya battalion and presided over the guard of honour and military parade. He also lauded Raman Singh, the Chief Minister of Chattisgarh for continued efforts to end Maoist violence in the state. Minister Rajnath Singh also held a review meeting on left-wing extremism in the country at Raipur in Chattisgarh.