Old grouse on states’ Naxal agenda | india | Hindustan Times
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Old grouse on states’ Naxal agenda

india Updated: Aug 16, 2009 02:43 IST
Soumyajit Pattnaik

The chief ministers of the Naxal-hit states, at their meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday in New Delhi, are likely to raise the same demands that they made seven months ago.

For, the seven states identified as Naxal-affected grumble that the demands made in the January meeting with the Prime Minister have still not been fully met.

The demands are mainly three-fold: Deployment of more central forces, use of helicopters to keep vigil on Naxal activities and inclusion of more districts in the home ministry’s Security Related Expenditure (SRE) scheme.

Under the SRE scheme, the Centre reimburses all security-related expenses of the Naxal-hit districts.

The Naxals, led by the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist), wield considerable influence in 180 of India’s 626 districts and have so far claimed the lives of more than 200 security personnel this year.

Orissa CM Naveen Patnaik told the assembly last month: “Instead of providing more forces, the Centre has withdrawn 48 companies (about 4,800 personnel) of the 76 CRPF companies deployed in the state.”

Seventeen Naxal-affected districts in Orissa are, however, covered by the central scheme.

Of the total 24 districts in Jharkhand, 18 are covered under the SRE scheme. This year, the state requested that the remaining six be also brought under the scheme.

Bihar’s 38 revenue districts are already under the SRE. The state urged the Centre to include Buxar, Lakhisarai, Munger and Sheikhpura too, but the Centre agreed to include just Munger, according to S. K. Bhardwaj, IGP (Operations) in Bihar.

Chhattisgarh has nine of its 18 revenue districts under the scheme and plans to ask for SRE coverage for Raipur, Durg and Dhamtari, as Naxal violence has spread to these areas during the last couple of years.

In Andhra Pradesh, 17 districts are covered by the scheme. The state wants three more districts — Srikakulam, Vizianagaram and Visakhapatnam — to be included.

Beyond financial help, one big logistical hurdle that the states face is the absence of helicopters. Patnaik had urged the Centre to deploy a “dedicated helicopter” in Bhubaneswar for reconnaissance, evacuation of injured personnel and quick movement of forces. The demand is yet to be met.

Two years ago, the Jharkhand government bought a Dhruv helicopter for Rs 34 crore. But it has been grounded since December 2008 after the Director General of Civil Aviation discovered its pilots lacked the expertise needed to carry out aerial rescue operations.

The one helicopter that Chhattisagrh has deployed in the Naxal-hit areas is used to airlift injured cops or drop rations. It has asked for two more choppers.

The states also complain that the paramilitary forces are not properly trained in guerrilla warfare. They want deployment of more specialised anti-insurgency forces.

But the home ministry rider that 30 per cent of the vacancies in the armed police in the affected states must be filled with recruits from the Left Wing Extremism-affected districts has delayed the recruitment process for expanding such forces.