In a move to endear tribals ahead of the proposed anti-Naxalite offensive, the state government has announced raising a new tribal battalion, exclusively for Gadchiroli. This was announced by Home Minister Jayant Patil on Friday.
Patil was laying the foundation stone for Alpha Hawks, the special force created by merger of Unconventional Operations Training Centre (UOTC) and the Special Action Force (SAG).
"The idea is to create a fighting force and also provide the tribal youths employment opportunities and thus bring them into mainstream — nearly a thousand of them will get police jobs. They will also be well-versed with the local conditions, so will be useful in that sense," outgoing Additional Director General of Police (Anti-Naxalite Operations) Pankaj Gupta told The Indian Express.
Andhra Pradesh, incidentally, raised a similar battalion about a year ago in Khammam district. Gadchiroli will also get over 2,000 new policemen, 117 new vehicles and equipment ahead of the anti-Maoist operation set to be launched simultaneously across the Red Corridor.
Expected to be raised in one year's time, the battalion will add further to the police presence in the Naxal-infested areas. Gadchiroli and Gondia already have C-60 commando unit and SAG. One of the three India Reserve Battalions (IRB) in the state is being raised at Gondia. The one envisaged earlier for Kolhapur is to be shifted to Gadchiroli, sources said.
Patil later visited Gadchiroli, where he opened a residential colony for policemen. He also announced a hike in pay of policemen working in Naxal-infested areas — 50 per cent additional pay in place of about 20-21 per cent.
The government also decided to give up to Rs 5 lakh to kin of police informants killed by Naxalites and up to Rs 3 lakh to those injured or handicapped. Cops working in sensitive posts in Naxal areas will now get Rs 60 a day as ration allowance.
It has also been decided to extend the special schemes and benefits given to 26/11 martyrs to those killed in Naxal violence. While cops will serve six more months in Naxal areas, they will get a month's additional leave.
Operations office to be bifurcated
Regarding the shifting of Anti-Naxalite Operations (ANO) office to Gadchiroli, the government has decided to shift the Additional DGP's office to Mumbai, and the DIG (ANO), a post that lay buried in ANO since long, will now be DIG (Gachiroli Range comprising Gadchiroli, Aheri and Gondia police districts). Sunil Ramanand has already been appointed to the post.
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