Home minister RR Patil on Friday told the Legislative Council that the state was planning a special tribal battalion of the State Reserve Police Force (SRPF) to tackle the naxals in the state. He added that many young police officers were hesitant to work in the tribal areas and there was a need to raise a force comprising those who knew the terrain and belonged to the area.
“We are planning to raise a special tribal battalion of the SRPF comprising locals from those regions affected by naxals. The state government will take a decision on this soon,” Patil told the Legislative Council while replying to a discussion on the growing naxal activity in the state.
Patil claimed that not many officers were ready to work in the naxal afflicted areas of Gadchiroli and Chandrapur. He cited the example of four police sub-inspectors who resigned from the force after being posted in Gadchiroli after completing their training.
“People who live in the forest, and can live off it, will be better at tackling the naxals. However, we can’t implement preferential hiring based on where a person hails from, due to Supreme Court diktats,” Patil said.
The Supreme Court has so far frowned upon intra-state discrimination between persons residing in different districts or regions of a state. Patil claimed that in order to circumvent this, the state government will raise a special tribal battalion.
Patil further said that of the over 9,000 naxal related incidents that have taken place in the country from 2007-2011, only 510 incidents have occurred in Maharashtra.
Patil further claimed that the Naxals are no longer successful in wooing cadres from Maharashtra. “In recent years, the number of new naxals being added from the state is the lowest. However we cannot completely wipe them out till they are effectively tackled in Andhra Pradesh and Chattisgarh.”