In an effort to tackle the Naxalite problem in Maharashtra, representatives of the state government are meeting their counterparts from Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh and Orissa on Monday to decide whether para-military forces should be roped in. This year, Naxalites have killed over 30 security personnel in their stronghold Gadchiroli.
State Director General of Police S.S. Virk, who was in New Delhi last week for a response from the Centre on how to tackle the state’s worsening Naxalite problem, was also to assess the immediate availability of para-military forces.
Sources in the ministry said Maharashtra plans to ask for 12 companies of para-military forces for Gadchiroli and Gondia districts.
Maharashtra has also planned to set up a joint task force with Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh to enable co-ordinated anti-Naxalite operations. This will remove earlier hurdles of jurisdiction and allow security forces of one state to pursue Naxalite cadres into a neighbouring state.
A similar task force was constituted in the past but it functioned for just a month, said police sources.
The plan to strengthen security forces comes after the government learnt about the Dandakaranya Special Zone Committee’s (DKZC) plan to up the ante in Maharashtra. Top leaders of this Naxalite outfit based in Chhattisgarh are said to have decided to merge the operations of CPI-Maoists in Maharashtra along with that of the larger and stronger DKZC.
Mohammed Arif Nasim Khan, minister of state for home, confirmed that the meeting was scheduled for Monday. “A decision on whether or not to take help from para-military forces to tackle Naxalites in Maharashtra will be taken after the meeting.”
The state has also planned to get a helicopter for Gadchiroli. A senior IPS officer, requesting anonymity, said: “Apart from ascertaining the presence of Maoists in the jungle, the helicopter would help us map the topography of the Gadchiroli region and understand accessibility of jungles.”