Is Chhattisgarh ill-equipped to tackle Naxalism?

By ZRG | Updated: May 29, 2013, 16:02 PM IST

Pankaj Sharma/ Zee Research Group

A National Investigation Agency (NIA) team has begun its probe into Saturday`s Maoist attack in Chhattisgarh to find out possible security lapses on the part of central or state armed forces. The probe will take some time to arrive at any conclusion but regular fall in police strength in Chhattisgarh has raised questions over security arrangements in the Naxalism-affected state.

A Zee Research Group (ZRG) study shows regular increasing gap between sanctioned and actual strength of security personnel. The data updated by the Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPRD) at the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) reveals that while state police of Chhattisgarh is running short by 54.49 per cent officers, Central Reserve Police Force`s (CRPF) strength is short by 17.84 per cent personnel.

The analysis of BPRD data points that the gap between the required and actual state police (civil and armed) strength had increased to 9233 in 2011 as against a figure of 7970 in 2010. Interestingly, in 2012, the gap widened to 15208. Moreover, Chhattisgarh’s police–to-population ratio works out to one cop for 525 as against the sanctioned strength of 398.

Surprisingly, paramilitary unit CRPF deployed in Chhattisgarh to counter Naxals is also marred by acute shortage of officers. The gap between the sanctioned and actual staff in CRPF has been rising over the years. In 2010, the shortage was observed at 29,114 which jumped to 32,799 in 2011. As on January 1, 2012 the deficiency was registered at 44,019.

The state currently has a deployment of over 30,000 CRPF officers in anti-Maoist operations. Furthermore, after the recent Naxal attack on several Congress leaders in the state the Central government has decided to send 2,000 more CRPF personnel to Chhattisgarh.

As per an estimate, presently more than 100 personnel of Combat Battalion for Resolute Action (CoBRA) squad of CRPF are deployed in jungles of Chhattisgarh. CoBRA, the counter-insurgency unit of CRPF, is deployed in dense jungles of Odisha, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal, Jharkhand and Bihar.

Astonishingly, as per the analysis among all paramilitary units, CRPF which functions under the aegis of the Home Ministry has been facing the maximum shortage of officers for the last three years. CRPF is followed by BSF and CISF.

The fact is also evident from a recent government sponsored IIM study on shortage of officers in paramilitary forces. The study which was commissioned by the MHA showed the dire straits of CRPF and BSF officers. The report pointed out that the poor situation of personnel was also aggravated due to shortage of manpower.