Anti-Naxal operations to be intensified, choppers inducted

Anti-Naxal operations are set to be intensified in affected states with the induction of 2,000 newly trained BSF personnel and seven new helicopters.

The Border Security Force (BSF) will deploy its two new battalions in Chhattisgarh and Orissa, official sources said.

The force has already 10 battalions in operation in these two states.

With this, the total strength of central forces involved in the anti-Maoist drive will go up to about 93,000 personnel.

They include 76 battalions of CRPF and five of Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP). A battalion has approximately 1,000 personnel.

Six new MI-17 choppers and a ‘Dhruv’ Advanced Light Helicopter will be deployed in these areas. They will be operated by the BSF air-wing.

“We are adding a considerable number of aircraft to our air-wing,” BSF Director General U K Bansal said during the forces’ annual press conference here today.

“The two new battalions have already finished their training and will be deployed in Chhattisgarh and Orissa including at the borders of these two states,” sources said, adding the move to induct the fresh contingents and the choppers was taken sometime back..

BSF will also enhance its fleet of fixed-wing aircraft. The force is working on a proposal with Union Home Ministry to procure about six new planes of various capacities.

“The proposal is at present being worked out in consultation with the Home Ministry. The new aircraft will add to the existing fleet of Embraer and Avro aircraft,” a senior BSF official said.

According to sources, the new set of helicopters will be deployed in Naxal-affected states in phases for assisting in the deployment, bring in reinforcements and evacuate casualty among personnel of central and state police forces who are, at present, conducting operations against the ultras.

The government had issued Letter of Intent for hiring six MI-17 helicopters on wet lease in September this year. At present, a total of nine helicopters are deployed for duties as part of anti-Naxal operations grid.

On the proposed move to remove AFSPA from certain areas in J-K, Bansal said, “The availability of AFSPA and Disturbed Areas Act acquires dimension in counter-insurgency operations.

BSF is deployed at borders. It (AFSPA) is not directly impacting BSF. We shall go with the decision of the government on this subject.

“I would imagine that areas that are being considered for the… (removal) of Disturbed Areas Act will by and large be those in which issues of internal security will be addressed by Jammu and Kashmir Police and CRPF in any emergency,” he said.

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