ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The ‘Bastariya Battalion’

A local tribal force has been created in the central paramilitary to take on the Maoists in Bastar.

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh made it a point to be present at the 21 May passing out parade of tribal recruits to a new Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) battalion that is intended to “add teeth to” the paramilitary’s “anti-Naxal operations” in the Bastar division of Chhattisgarh. “Battalion 241,” better known as the “Bastariya Battalion” of the CRPF, will soon move from the training grounds of the Anti-Naxal Training School at Ambikapur in Surguja district to be deployed in the counter-insurgency operations in Bastar. The new recruits, 534 of them, including 189 women, are tribal youth from the most “highly Naxal-infested” districts of Chhattisgarh: Bijapur, Dantewada, Narayanpur, and Sukma. They have been scouted mainly from the CRPF’s “civic action programme,” supposedly intended to “win hearts and minds,” that has actually been used to employ “surrendered Maoists” as police informers.

The CRPF, like the armed police of Chhattisgarh did earlier, is bent upon taking advantage of the tribal recruits’ “geo-spatial experience of their own soil”—that is, familiarity with the local terrain, culture, and language—to bridge its divide with the local population. It is not just this though; just like the main qualification in the selection of “Special Police Officers” (SPOs) was the “desire to take revenge on Naxalites,” here too, this has reportedly been the most looked for, but unstated, eligibility criterion. A woman recruit to the Bastariya Battalion, interviewed by an India Today correspondent, said she had “trained hard to avenge the killers” of three members of her family, including her father, whom the Naxals killed “on suspicion of being a police informer.”

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Updated On : 5th Jun, 2018

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