In a move to ramp up resources available for launching India’s biggest offensive against Naxalites, the Centre will next week ask affected states to reorient policemen in rural areas into fighting Naxalites and not just carry out routine duties.
The Ministry of Home Affairs will make this point at Monday’s conference of chief ministers convened by the Prime Minister as it seeks to build political consensus over allowing paramilitary forces to lead the coordinated offensive against Naxals and strengthening the state’s police machinery.
“We have been nudging state police organisations to launch joint operations for several years… But except for a few cases, it has not worked very well due to jurisdictional issues,” a home ministry officer told HT on conditions of anonymity.
Over the last few months, the Centre has consequently been drawing up plans that put the overall police leadership for the offensive in the hands of a senior para-military officer: of the rank of an Inspector General of Police or an Additional Director General of Police-rank officer.
On Monday, the ministry will seek political clearance from the chief ministers to put this plan into action.
Officials said the ministry has already started work on building up a task force that would draw personnel from all para-military forces to launch its offensive in October or November.
Also, before the ministry sends its troops into the dense jungles, it wants an assurance from states that it would be able to provide logistic support to the troops, build temporary camps, provide medical support to jawans and ramp up connectivity.
The ministry is also going to encourage states to set up a Unified Command, on the lines set up by Chhattisgarh under the leadership of the CM, to smoothen out the rough edges and focus on security infrastructure.
More than 55 per cent of India’s 14,000 police stations are in rural areas but these are poorly-staffed and have to make do with antiquated weapons.