As the security establishment battles with shortage of trained personnel to fight Naxals, the Cabinet Committee on Security is expected to take a call on Thursday on the home ministry’s proposal for greater assistance from the armed forces in anti-Maoist operations.
The meeting, to be chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, is expected to debate the pros and cons of using the armed forces to fight Maoists.
Shortly after taking over in November 2009, Home Minister P Chidambaram had inducted a brigadier from the army to draw up the training plan of central police forces.
Nearly 40,000 police personnel have since been put through an intensive jungle warfare course at training schools run by the army.
But there have been demands for a greater role of the armed forces in the fight against Maoists including deployment of the army’s Special Forces, particularly after the centrally-driven offensive against Naxals started in November last year.
A key proposal of the ministry relates to the deployment of more than 20 helicopters to move forces in Naxal-affected areas and maintain the supply lines in camps of security personnel opened in inaccessible locations and get an army officer to play an advisory role.
The army — that has been studying the Naxal problem and discussing it at its annual army commanders’ conference — is reluctant to deploy its men on long-term duties in Naxal areas. But, it is not averse to raising the extent of support to train, plan and help out the police forces with logistics.
The ministry is, however, keen to use the expertise within the armed forces for de-mining large stretches of roads in Naxal-affected areas in Chhattisgarh and elsewhere.
Landmines have killed a large number of security personnel in Naxal-affected areas. The defence ministry, however, is apparently reluctance to deploy its anti-mine experts in the conflict zone, but is open to expanding the extent of training.
It was after the mine blast under the bus that killed 35 people that Chidambaram spoke about his “limited mandate” from the government to deal with a problem that the PM has repeatedly described as the country’s single largest internal security challenge.