CRPF reworks strategy to take Naxals and militants head on in Bastar and south Kashmir

Wiser after back-to-back Maoist ambushes in Sukma in April this year and the recent terror attack on a bus carrying Amarnath pilgrims, the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) has stepped up its operational tactics by shifting to a multi-pronged approach.

This includes new standard operating procedures (SOPs) and up-scaling the personnel training mechanism. Besides this, the paramilitary force would now have indigenously designed bullet-proof vehicles.

“CRPF has devised new SOPs for different operations and several other measures have been taken up to tackle Maoists in Naxal-prone areas and militants in Kashmir valley. This is an ongoing process. We are looking at better ground surveillance, better mobility to have more protection to our force. We’re getting bullet-proof vehicles as well,” said Rajeev Rai Bhatnagar, director general, CRPF in New Delhi, on the occasion of its 78th anniversary on Wednesday.

 CRPF reworks strategy to take Naxals and militants head on in Bastar and south Kashmir

Representational image. Reuters

The recent attack on a bus during Amarnath Yatra that killed 8 pilgrims and incidents of stone-pelting in Kashmir have compelled the CRPF to have more bullet-proof vehicles in its fleet. The force has taken recourse to ‘jugaad’ technology to meet the purpose.

“We need more bullet-proof vehicles. As regular procurement process is a tedious one, we’ve improvised our vehicles and converted them into bullet-proof ones at our workshops by using local materials and local vendors. We’re working towards bullet-proofing a few of our buses which are used in convoys. Two buses have already been bullet-proofed. Government is also looking at fast-track procedures,” said Bhatnagar.

Currently, these two bullet-proof buses are plying CRPF personnel and locals from Jammu to Srinagar.

“The force has improvised its two buses through jugaad technology and converted them into bullet-proof ones by retro-fitting in its workshop. We’ve used local materials and roped in local vendors to develop them. We’re constantly working on its mechanism to make it more effective because, once you make a bus bullet-proof by providing a shield to its exterior, it becomes heavier and affects the manoeuvrability. We’ll get bullet-proofing done to more vehicles from buses to lighter ones. It’ll safeguard our personnel moving with convoys,” a senior CRPF official in know of technicalities told Firstpost.

CRPF’s multi-pronged approach

— New SOPs for different operations in different places.
— Better coordination with state police forces like in Chhattisgarh and Jammu and Kashmir.
— Better intelligence-sharing on ground among CRPF, state police and other agencies.
— Scaling-up of training methodology by devising drills and joint training sessions of CoBRA with other troops.
— Improving response time during operations.
— Strengthening the safety of the security force by briefing the troops ahead of an operation, follow-ups, constant feedback and knowledge of equipment they carry.
— Inclusion of more indigenously manufactured bullet-proof vehicles.
— After terror attack on Amarnath pilgrims, more number of checkpoints have been created to keep a track of convoys and other passengers joining at different points, with special focus on road opening party (ROP) duty and convoy protection.
— Advanced weapon training and technological development.

Left Wing Extremism (LWE): A major concern

Naxal menace continues to haunt security personnel, as CRPF has lost 906 personnel between 2010 and 2017 (30 June), according to an MHA report.

As LWE remains a major area of concern for internal security of the country, CRPF has focused its attention on 10 LWE-affected states by deploying 89 battalions including nine CoBRA battalions. It has raised a group – ‘Bastariya Battalion’ comprising local tribals of south Bastar having knowledge of local dialect, terrain and modus operandi of Maoist outfits. This is expected to provide tactical advantage to the force in fighting Maoists and also help in bringing the tribals back to mainstream.

“South Bastar is a major area of concern in LWE. But, we’ve been successful in neutralising 51 Maoists, recovering huge cache of arms and ammunition from them, after which 834 Maoists surrendered. In a joint operation called ‘Operation Prahar’ with Chhattisgarh police in south Sukma, our CoBRA battalion neutralised Maoists and recovered weapons from PLGA battalion led by Hidma, the zonal leader. As per police report, Maoists suffered heavy casualties in that operation. In the last two and half years, there has been an overall reduction in violence and, increase in surrenders and neutralization of Maoists,” the DG informed.

On Jammu & Kashmir

Besides emphasising on joint drill with Jammu and Kashmir police, the CRPF is working on law and order and controlling militancy in close collaboration with police and army. CRPF has deployed 60 battalions in Jammu and Kashmir.

“CRPF neutralised seven top militants including Hizbul Mujahideen commander Shabzar Ahmed Bhat and JeM terrorist Aquib Ahmed alias Abu Hamza, who was from across the border, besides neutralising Fidayeens. As per our assessment, we’ve been able to successfully contain the situation in Kashmir valley. In comparison to previous years, incidents of stone-pelting have declined. We effectively handled 421 stone-pelting cases this year using minimum force. We are also working towards equipping our jawans and safeguarding them from getting injured during stone pelting incidents," added Bhatnagar.

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Updated Date: Jul 28, 2017 09:17:55 IST