New Delhi: In order to reduce casualties of its troops from landmine blasts in anti-Naxal operations, the Central Reserve Police Force has decided to shun its mine protected vehicles as troop carriers for routine operations.
The force has issued a set of standard operating procedures (SOPs) to its commanders in the Naxal operations grid to "limit" the usage of these mobile armoured bunkers.
"We have decided to limit the use of the mine protected vehicles during routine anti-Naxal operations. These armoured vehicles which carry troops will only be used during specific emergencies and combat situations," CRPF chief Dilip Trivedi told PTI.
The CRPF Director General said the decision was taken by the force after obtaining information from commanders deployed on the ground and the step was aimed to save the paramilitary troops from deadly Naxal ambushes.
The CRPF, mainstay for anti-Naxal operations in the country with close to 90,000 personnel deployed for the task, has over a hundred such four-wheeled armoured vehicles with its units spread across Left Wing Extremism affected states.
These MPVs will be used in rare instances only, like in case of a quick emergency evacuation of troops or during a possible instance where Maoists attack a camp and the troops riding it could come out to thwart the offensive by firing from inside the safe walls of the armoured vehicle.
Over 70 per cent of casualties of the security force personnel have occurred in the past when troops were riding an MPV and it rolled over a powerful Improvised Explosive Device or landmine.
Many troops lost their limbs in such blasts.
The MPVs, due to their unique and heavy structure, are easily identifiable and hence become vulnerable for a Naxal attack.
The force, over a period of time, has instructed its men to shun the use of these vehicles for regular jungle patrols and the commanders have been asked to send their squads only on foot.
IEDs, in Naxal violence affected areas, have been found buried as deep as 20ft inside the ground, making it difficult to trace them.
The force has provided one MPV to each battalion deployed for counter-Maoist operations in the Naxal violence affected states with some units having more than one in view of special operational requirements in their task area.
When the MPV was blown off, security personnel inside it were killed due to shock waves of the blast. At times, these vehicles were ripped off to smithereens as Naxals used explosives close to 80 kg.
A number of jawans were also killed after they hit the hard interiors of a blast trapped MPV which was flung high up in the air.