As part of redesigning its anti-Maoist operations, the West Bengal government will withdraw the Eastern Frontier Rifles (EFR) from the job and appoint special police officers to supplement the work of the security forces.
That the EFR will be used only for ordinary law and order functions such as election duty became tangible when EFR camps were being dismantled in Shilda in West Midnapore, following the massacre of 24 troopers on February 15.
Meanwhile, Binoy Chakraborty, special inspector general of the force, who blamed the West Midnapore district police for the Shilda attack, has been transferred to the Hooghly River Bridge Commissioners as security advisor.
"He has been shifted in public interest," said Director General of Police Bhupinder Singh on Friday. The EFR is part of the state armed police.
The state government is planning to appoint special police officers (SPOs) for the Maoist-infested districts of West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia, along the lines of what has been done in Chhattisgarh. Each district will have 100 SPOs.
They will be raised predominantly from ex-servicemen and retired policemen, apart from villagers in the Maoist-affected areas.
"The government has decided to form this force," Singh said on Friday.
The government has also decided to set up seven-eight camps for the combined forces of the Centre and the state in the Maoist-dominated districts. The camps will be manned by security persons below 35. Only officers of the rank of inspector and above may be older.
In another move, taking a lesson from the massacre of 76 security personnel on April 6 in Dantewada in Chhattisgarh, the combined forces in West Bengal stopped patrolling that involves a 60-km trek.
From now on, they will patrol only 15-km-long stretches and avoid spending nights out in the open.
"The Dantewada forces had been carrying out an operation for 72 hours without a break. They were fatigued physically and mentally. We would like to avoid such risks," a top official said on condition of anonymity.