The minister also asked senior officials to prepare a blueprint of the proposed strategy to tackle left-wing extremism.
New Delhi: Facing criticism for keeping Central paramilitary forces headless, the Centre on Wednesday hurriedly cleared the appointments of CRPF and ITBP chiefs, two days after the Naxal attack in Chhattisgarh’s Sukma that left 25 security personnel dead.
Rajiv Rai Bhatnagar, an IPS officer of 1983 batch of Uttar Pradesh cadre, was named CRPF chief, while R.K. Pachnanda of the same batch of West Bengal cadre was picked as the new head of the ITBP.
With lack of intelligence-sharing between the state police and the central forces suspected to be the main reason for high casualty rate of security forces in Maoist-infested Chhattisgarh, Union home minister Rajnath Singh chaired a high-level meeting on Wednesday and asked for strengthening of intelligence-gathering mechanism, analysis of ongoing operations, identification of problem areas and their resolution for better results.
Sources said that Mr Singh has asked senior security advisor in the home ministry, K. Vijay Kumar, to stay put in Chhattisgarh to ensure coordinated operations against the Maoists.
The minister also asked senior officials to prepare a blueprint of the proposed strategy to tackle left-wing extremism. The plan would be presented at the May 8 meeting to be attended by chief ministers as well as top civil and police officials of 10 Naxal-affected states.
Wednesday’s meeting was attended by national security advisor Ajit Doval, Union home secretary Rajiv Mehrishi and senior officials, who discussed ways on finetuning the new strategy to make it more effective and minimise casualty of security forces.
The meeting also discussed road construction activities in Naxal-hit areas and Mr Singh asked officials to look for alternative modern technology to complete projects on time. The top officials told the home minister that currently 90 per cent of Maoist activities were limited to 35 worst-hit districts, even though the Naxals have influence in areas spread over 68 districts in the country.
Sources said the home ministry has called for better intelligence-sharing and coordination among the security forces in the Bastar region. The Chhattisgarh police has been asked to accompany the Central forces in Maoist areas. “This is a necessity as the Central police personnel on duty in the Naxal-infested areas has virtually zero knowledge of the local terrain and intelligence. If they are accompnaied by local policemen, they would have better chances of taking on the Maoists,” a source said.
The CRPF has also been asked to resolve some “inherent” problems like weaponry, logistics and intelligence-gathering mechanism to ensure better results in anti-Naxal operations, sources said.
The brazen ambush in Sukma, according to agency reports from Chhattisgarh, is suspected to have been planned by Situ, a wanted Naxalite commander, who was camping for the last few days in Tadmetla village, barely 7-8 km from the scene of the attack. It was in this village that 75 CRPF personnel and one policeman were massacred in April 2010.
“We suspect that the attack was planned by Situ and his group with the support of local lower-rung cadres and militia members,” a source said.
The first “military battalion” of Maoist rebels, likely to be involved in the carnage, is headed by Hidma. It has been active in the Bastar region, particularly Sukma, and launched several attacks on security forces. The battalion has two companies — one headed by Situ and another by Nagesh.