Rashtriya Rifles against Naxals: Army wary

The idea of deploying the Rashtriya Rifles in anti-Naxal operations has the army feeling uncomfortable. While so far, the army has been training paramilitary forces in defusing Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), tactics and field medical aid and also preparing to set up a sub-area in the region, it has been wary of deploying its own troops for combating Naxals.

T he idea of deploying the Rashtriya Rifles in anti-Naxal operations has the army feeling uncomfortable. While so far, the army has been training paramilitary forces in defusing Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), tactics and field medical aid and also preparing to set up a sub-area in the region, it has been wary of deploying its own troops for combating Naxals.

But the Ministry of Home Affairs may ask for the deployment of Rashtriya Rifles in a meeting on Monday in the states of Orissa, Chattisgarh, Jharkhand and Bihar. Since the Rashtriya Rifles have only been deployed in Jammu and Kashmir so far, the army feels and redeployment may have an adverse impact on the effective strength of security forces in the state.

“Naturally, it’ll be affected. The military situation has not calmed to a level where troops can be freely deinducted (from Jammu and Kashmir),” said one brasshat.

“Any such deinduction will require readjustment in deployment grids and the enlargement of existing Areas of Responsibility (AoRs). Even if we get in fresh units they will take time to familiarize themselves with the intelligence situation and the environment,” he says.

Rashtriya Rifles has 63 battalions and four force headquarters. Kilo Force is located at Sharifabad, Romeo Force at Rajouri, Uniform Force at Riyasi and Victor Force at Avantipor. Each of these has the strength of slightly more than a division.

At the moment, with desperate infiltration attempts from across the Line of Control (LoC), the army feels any reduction in forces would be unwise. “Infiltration attempts have gone up because the passes are likely to start closing by October-November. It would be more conducive for our interests in J&K to delay any deinduction, if it must happen, at least until after the passes close. Otherwise preventing infiltration will be that much more challenging – which might also lead to increased terrorist activity in the winter months,” says the senior officer.

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Follow Saurabh Joshi on Twitter @ http://www.twitter.com/saurabhjoshi Saurabh is a journalist based in New Delhi, India who has worked in print, television as well as internet news media. Besides defense and strategy, his past assignments have included reporting from Kashmir, coverage of terror strikes as well as election coverage from all over India. He has a Bachelors degree in Journalism (Honors) as well as a law degree (LLB), both from the University of Delhi.
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