New Delhi, May 3 (IANS) In another step towards uprooting the Maoist stronghold in Chhattisgarh, the Centre has decided to deploy eight battalions (over 8,000 personnel) of Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) in the forested state on a permanent basis from 2021.

Following in the footprints of Indian Army’s specialised counter-insurgency force, the Rashtriya Rifles (RR) in Jammu and Kashmir, the ITBP has decided to keep these eight battalions earmarked for Chhattisgarh in the state only to augment their edge against the insurgents, sources privy to the developments told IANS.

Presently, the ITBP battalions are deployed in the state on a rotation basis, with two or three of them shifted out every two or three years and replaced by others from elsewhere in the country. As per the new policy, these eight battalions already deployed in Chhattisgarh will be permanently based there for anti-Maoist operations and only personnel from them will be transferred in and out on an individual basis, the source said.

The decison was taken at a time when the country is battling with the coronavirus pandemic. The rotation change over (RCO) of two battalions deployed in Chhattisgarh, which was due in May, has been cancelled due to the pandemic, said the source.

ITBP Director General S.S. Deswal took the decision in this regard in the end of last month after a series of discussions with the force’s top brass.

The move is aimed at bolstering operations against the ultra-left extremists in Chhattisgarh — the worst Maoist affected belt.

“Ending rotational move of battalions is based on various grounds. Some of the personnel are deputed for the second term as per the current process.

“The move to deploy battalions on a permanent basis in Chhattisgarh will also strengthen their operations as the personnel will have proper time to establish their intelligence network in the area which is must in the jungle warfare,” said another official.

The ITBP, which is mandated to guard 3,488 km Line of Actual Control (LAC) along India-Chiina border, has been deployed in Chhattisgarh since 2009. The mountain force was first time deputed in Rajnandgaon district and over 3,000 personnel were deployed there.

As the ITBP played major roles in fight against Maoists in Chhattisgarh, the government in 2018 sanctioned additional 5,000 troopers of the paramilitary force in order to give a boost to the anti-Maoist operations in the state.

All the eight ITBP Battalions are currently deployed in Bastar, Narayanpur, Rajnandgaon and Kondagaon districts of Chhattisgarh which have witnessed maximum violence in the recent past.

Following the move, the ITBP battalions will be exclusively used against the Maoists and intensify the operations against them in Chhattisgarh. After putting curbs on terrorist operations in Jammu and Kashmir, the ITBP’s move is part of Centre’s plan to contain Maoist operations in Chhattisgarh.

Out of ITBP’s 56 battalions, 34 battalions are engaged on securing the LAC, 11 are deployed in internal security, eight deployed in Chhattisgarh and the remaining three battalions are providing protection to important installations and VIPs.

With this, the total deployment of Central Armed Police Force (CAPF), including CRPF, Border Security Force (BSF) and Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB), over 40,000 personnel are deputed in Maoist-hit states across India.

(Rajnish Singh can be contacted at [email protected])

–IANS

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