As the Centrally- coordinated offensive against naxals picks up, the Home Ministry has given Central forces in naxal-affected districts the powers to arrest naxals, allowing them to act in an independent manner.
The power, delegated to central police forces under the Arms Act, will be applicable till December 2010 in 83 districts across nine states.
“The notification conferring this power to Commandants and Deputy Inspector General of Police rank officers of central paramilitary forces was issued last month,” a senior home ministry official told Hindustan Times.
These provisions empower central forces such as the Central Reserve Police Force and the Border Security Force to demand an arms license from any person carrying arms.
If the person cannot produce one, the law requires him to give his name and address to the officer concerned. But the police officer retains the right to arrest him if he suspects the person intends to abscond or give him incorrect details.
A Central Reserve Police Force officer said this would practically give them the right to arrest naxals “as they are usually armed, do not carry a licence and would go underground if released”.
Since central police forces act in the aid of the civil
administration, they do not have any independent powers under the Code of Criminal Procedure when they conduct operations. They derive their powers
from the state police, which depute a representative with each of the teams during operations.
But with the home ministry aiming to line up inter-state borders with central forces to prevent the naxals from operating, officials said this wasn’t always possible and was a handicap for the central forces.
Nearly 60 battalions of central forces are deployed on counter-naxal duties.
In recent weeks, home ministry officials said the joint operations by central and state forces had started delivering results and cited last weekend’s operation in West Bengal as an example.
“Three Maoists including an explosives expert were killed and 15 injured in this operation,” a home ministry official said.