New Delhi: The Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) has decided to terminate the services of over two dozen ex-Army men it had recently hired for carrying out special counter-landmine operations in Naxal hotbeds, after their performance was found to be "below standard" in neutralising the explosive devices.
The force, which recently created a new institute in Pune to train its men in identifying, neutralising and combating Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and landmines under the tutelage of the experts from the Army-run College of Military Training (CME), found that these hired personnel, in various operations, were not able to provide the kind of results that they were expected to.
A number of CRPF commanders who are undertaking anti-Naxal operations in various states have reported to the force leadership that these personnel should be taken off and replaced by those young force troopers who are being trained at the Institute of IED Management in Pune.
"About 200 ex-Army men were recently hired on contract in the force after an advertisement was circulated in this regard. The CRPF did not possess hands-on expertise to counter IEDs in Naxal areas which are cleverly hidden beneath roads, sometimes at a depth of even 15-feets.
"The ex-Army were being hired for the same reason for sometime but the results were not found satisfactory and are below standard. Hence, it has been decided to terminate the services of over two dozen hired personnel," a senior official said.
The CRPF, thick in action in Naxal affected zones of the country had last year called for a total of 2,012 retired Junior Commissioned Officers (JCOs), Non-Commissioned Officers (NCOs) and others on hire to enhance its capabilities to undertake counter-IED operations in Maoist-hit areas of the country where it has deployed more than 70,000 troops.
The paramilitary force has lost more than 130 personnel in the last five years due to IED explosions alone while many have been maimed or handicapped.
On March 27, 13 men were killed in Gadchiroli when an IED explosion ripped apart a force vehicle.
The CRPF is now banking upon the talent pool of its freshly trained troopers who have been tutored by Army experts in Pune.
The force had undertaken the initiative to hire ex-Army men for the first time in its 71-year-old history but the results do not look encouraging, at least at present.
The ex-Army men were expected not only to help the CRPF patrols in combating IEDs but also in imparting commando training to regular units during their tenure with the force.