New Delhi: In the wake of killing of 19 persons in an anti-Naxal operation in Chhattisgarh, the Centre on Friday directed security forces to take maximum precaution during offensives against ultras and abandon such plans if women and children are found to be used as human shields.
The Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to be followed by the forces when they find Naxals using human shields were discussed threadbare at a high-level meeting attended by senior officials of the Home Ministry and representatives of nine Maoist-affected states.
"The main emphasis of the SOPs is how to check Maoists` tactic of using human shield and minimise collateral damage in action," an official said.
The meeting directed the forces to finalise the SOPs after consultations with officers working on the ground and emphasised that forces conducting operations during night must take enough night vision equipment and make enough arrangements to illuminate the area to figure out whether the Maoists are trying to take civilians along with them.
Operations will have to be to abandoned if civilians are being used by Naxals as human shield during day time.
If necessary, forces will cordon an area during night and conducted operation only when the first rays of sunlight sets in.
Those security personnel, who are being inducted fresh, will be given special training on ways to avoid collateral damage and those already deployed will be imparted refresher course and sensitised about local conditions.
The meeting also reviewed security situation in the naxal-hit states and discussed ways to deal with the large build up of military wing of CPI (Maoists) in Chhattisgarh.
The Home Ministry officials advised the states to provide adequate personnel, arms and ammunitions in police stations falling under Naxal area. The states were asked to appoint officers with younger profile in Maoist hot beds to get desired results.
The states were also asked to fill vacancies in middle level -- from sub-inspector to Deputy Superintendent levels.
The Ministry and security officials also reviewed the status of the Security Related Expenditure schemes, police vacancy position in the states and their steps to recruit fresh personnel among others.
The meeting was convened days after security forces were accused of killing civilians along with Maoists during an operation in Chhattisgarh`s Bijapur area.