New Delhi: Chhattisgarh’s Sukma district witnessed bloody scenes on Monday when Maoists killed 26 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) jawans in an ambush attack. Hours after the attack, Prime Minister Narendra Modi issued a statement condemning the attack. Former CRPF Director General (DG) Dilip Trivedi tells News18’s Uday Singh Rana there is an urgent need to review CRPF’s role in anti-Naxal operations, and the jawans must be given more bullet-proof jackets and protective head gear. Edited Excerpts:
India has lost 40 CRPF jawans in Naxal violence in the past month or so. Doesn’t it show that the existing strategy of anti-Maoist operations is failing?
Both the central and state governments must realise that it is essentially a law and order problem. It should be up to the state police to build its capacity. The CRPF should only be used as a strike force. Local police in these areas have completely abdicated their responsibility. Local police stations generate a lot of local intelligence. It is up to them to determine the nature of the threat. If they want, they can take a company or two from CRPF for a strike operation, but the constant deployment of the CRPF will only create confusion.
2017 has been a deadly year for CRPF. Has the government failed to learn from past mistakes?
On a governmental level, the fault is the failure to build a capable police force. But at an operational level, too, things must change. They (the government) are asking the CRPF to do the police’s job. The CRPF can’t continue to go out on patrols. Such operations make them visible, and thus the easy targets for Maoists.
Are there any long-standing issues that need to be resolved?
One of the biggest issues is the lack of equipment. The CRPF needs to be given more bullet-proof jackets and protective head gear.
Would you say that things have gotten worse?
Over the years, I would say things have definitely improved. There was a time when Maoists used to talk of creating a ‘Red Corridor’ from Pashupati to Tirupathi. They have been contained. These are just desperate attempts when they (Maoists) are losing the battle. The flame burns the brightest before it flickers and goes out.
From Kashmir to Sukma, the CRPF jawans are in the line of fire. What are the new challenges for CRPF jawans?
It is not just in Kashmir and Chhattisgarh. CRPF jawans deployed in the North East face the same problem. During any major deployment, the maximum deployment is by the CRPF. In fact, as a joke, CRPF jawans have given themselves the moniker ‘Chalte Raho Pyaare Force’ because they are always on the move. Even during elections, the CRPF is deployed. They just don’t get the time for rest or recuperation.