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Hire army veterans: General

delhi Updated: Apr 10, 2010 01:22 IST
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An army general has pitched a proposal to skirt political sensitivities surrounding the deployment of armed forces in Maoist zones.

Major General S G Chatterji, who heads the army's resettlement wing, said the Centre should raise specialised units consisting of army veterans, creating a new template for fighting highly-trained Naxal cadres.

Chatterji told HT, "The police and paramilitary are finding it difficult to convert to an anti-Naxal role. Army veterans can fill that vacuum. Soldiers are trained in guerilla warfare, they retire young and it's only about regrouping them to create a formidable task force."

More than 55,000 soldiers retire every year, most of them in their 30s. Chatterji said these men, who have learnt their trade in the Northeast and Jammu and Kashmir, could be a tremendous resource for the government in the fight against Naxals.

The army and air force chiefs have made it clear that fighting Naxalism isn't the military's business.

Brigadier B.K. Ponwar (retd), who heads Chhattisgarh's Counter-terrorism and Jungle Warfare College at Kanker, said, "Such a force can't be raised overnight. It may take a few years. In the meantime, the government should completely combatise the police and paramilitary. Their training needs to capture the nuance of guerilla warfare."