Some 300 personnel of the Combat Battalion for Resolute Action (COBRA), a special anti-Naxal force, have been deployed in Madhya Pradesh’s Balaghat district to combat the growing presence of the leftwing rebels.
The deployment is part of a strategy to surround Naxal-hit areas in Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Bihar and Orissa, said an intelligence officer, requesting anonymity.
The Centre will decide standard operating procedures for them. COBRA, a unit of the paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), was set up in 2008 at a cost of Rs1,390 crore, of which Rs899 crore was spent on land and infrastructure. Around Rs492 crore will be used for manpower training over three years.
In the first phase, these battalions were trained at the army’s insurgency and jungle warfare training centre in Mizoram and the CRPF’s anti-terror training centre at Silchar.
Of the 10 COBRA battalions trained in guerrilla warfare, nine have already been deployed in Maoist-hit states.
“We have already started sending them in search operation along with the state’s anti-Naxal squads,” said V Muniraju, inspector general, Balaghat range. He, however, refused to comment on when and how COBRA will begin its operation.
The deployment of three companies of COBRA in Balaghat follows a recent spurt in Maoist activity in the area. “We have fresh intelligence inputs that Naxalites are coercing tribal youths to join the movement,” Muniraju said.