April 2009: Eleven Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) personnel were killed battling more than 200 armed Maoists while protecting Asia’s largest bauxite mine Nalco in Damanjodi, Odisha.
May 2012: Six CISF jawans were killed in a Maoist ambush, while on duty at the country’s largest NMDC iron ore mines at Kirandul in Bailadila, Chhattisgarh.
Between 2009 and 2012: Twenty CISF were personnel killed in 21 attacks in Naxal-infested zones in Chhattisgarh and Odisha.
The figures reflect gravity of the threat that the CISF personnel face while guarding the government’s economic installations in the Red Corridor spread across Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand, the control of which is vital for the economy of the region.
A recent order of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) that has increased the ceiling of CISF manpower to 1.8 lakh from the current 1.45 lakh is a shot in the arm for this industrial security force in their war against red terror. Besides, an increase in manpower, the two additional battalions — one of which is likely to be posted in the Maoist hotbed Bastar in Chhattisgarh, has been sanctioned.
Of the 49 CISF units across the country, 11 are in these hyper-sensitive Maoist zones, known as SRE (Security Related Expenditure) districts. While there are two units in Bastar, the CISF has an inspector-general (IG) rank official posted in Jharkhand, who oversees 19 units spread across Jharkhand, Bihar and Odisha.
Following the Centre’s stand towards zero-tolerance against terrorism, the CISF has given a major thrust on countering Maoist attacks on economic activities. As a result, a chunk of the additional 35,000 CISF personnel will be deployed in Naxal areas.
The Naxal threat looming over the economic installations like mines, steel and power plants, gas pipelines, rail tracks, etc in the Red Corridor and on the CISF can be judged from the fact that the newly appointed director general, CISF, OP Singh immediately after assuming his office in September this year, made his first visit to Kirandul to take stock of the situation.
The Red Corridor is a region that experiences considerable Left Wing Extremists (LWE) or Maoist insurgency and is spread across 10 states. Over the years, the number of districts coming under the Red Corridor has increased.
Though securing airports and Metro rail stations are part of the CISF agenda, safeguarding the production units in Maoist-infested zones is of paramount importance for the force.
“This increase in manpower will help the CISF to strengthen its operations in Red Corridor, as we’re guarding the economic sector in this zone. Our men have risen to the occasion by not only providing security to installations against LWE but also in managing a big public domain — thousands of staff members working in the industrial sector, by proving safety and security to them,” Singh told Firstpost.
The CISF will strengthen its existing anti-terror operations, give specialised training to its jawans, track landmines and monitor mechanism. “Protecting all the industrial centres in the Red Corridor is one of the top priorities of the CISF. Chhattisgarh is one of the most important Naxal-infested states. It’s very difficult and challenging to monitor due to its large terrain and forest areas. Jharkhand is another state, where the CISF is protecting the uranium mines in Jadugoda and the coal mines of Central Coalfields Ltd,” he added.
Following frequent Maoist attacks on government and non-government establishments in the recent past, the importance of the CISF has become inevitable.
According to an MHA source, the central government has been monitoring the incidents of terror attacks and reviewing the threats to economic installations in the Red Corridor for over a long period. “Considering these factors, the Centre envisaged handing over the security arrangements of sensitive and major establishments to the CISF. Based on the request from the CISF, now the manpower ceiling has been increased and it’ll be a big boost to the force,” the source added.
First Published On : Dec 28, 2016 20:01 IST