Naxal strongholds can be demolished by Greyhounds force only
Raipur: At a time when the menace of Naxalism has permeated into the very roots of 13 states, Andhra Pradesh devised tactical methods including Greyhounds to remove Moaists from the state.
The Greyhounds force is an elite anti-naxal force that specialises in conducting jungle warfare applying guerrilla tactics to counter those of the Maoists. It has been highly successful in demolition of Maoists’ stronghold in Andhra Pradesh.
Intending to equip states before launching a fight to finish war against Maoists, the Union Cabinet in April this year had given its approval to the home ministry's plan to raise anti-Naxal special forces in Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha and Chhattisgarh on the lines of Greyhounds of Andhra Pradesh and sanctioned additional fund for the purpose.
The need for a specialised troop — adept in jungle warfare and matching up to the guerrilla tactics adopted by the Maoists — has been talked about repeatedly for taking on the ultras in the region since the police as well as the Central paramilitary forces are not trained for operating under such extreme conditions.
The specialized forces, capable of hot pursuit across the inter-state borders, will be set up with personnel fully trained in guerilla warfare and required infrastructure within six months.
The fund, to the tune of Rs 280 crore, will be disbursed to these four states by the home ministry under its ongoing Scheme for Special Infrastructure (SSI). Part of the sum will also be used to upgrade infrastructure of Andhra Pradesh Police and its Greyhounds force.
The West Bengal Government is also raising counter-insurgency force to be trained by the elite Greyhounds force based in Andhra Pradesh for specialising in counter-guerrilla activities of Maoists active in certain parts of the state.
The Greyhounds were raised in Andhra Pradesh in 1989. All officers and men are recruited on deputation from the various organisations of Andhra Pradesh police and are given special training in fields craft and weapon handling, development of physical fitness and mental alertness. The training is designed such that the police can take on the guerrillas on their own turf, and in their own style. Ranjit Shekhar Moosahary, former DG, NSG and BSF says, “The Greyhounds manual and its training course is of a very high standard. Only the best policemen of Andhra Pradesh are selected. I have watched them train and rank them very highly. They are not far behind the NSG.”
The Greyhounds have been successful in wiping out the insurgents from Nallamala, Palnadu, and north Telangana regions in Andhra Pradesh and assisted the state-police of Maharashtra, Chattisgarh, and Orissa, in their anti-Naxalite endeavours. Since June 2000, the Greyhounds have also trained police personnel of other states affected by left wing extremism in commando techniques.
So, what is so unique about specially trained units such as these as opposed to the conventional forces of the Army operating in places such as the North-east? What is that makes them so adaptable and efficient in fighting insurgency?
The Greyhounds consist of around 2,000 (the exact number has not been disclosed by the government) senior personnel (only the best from the police force make up to it) moving in compact bands of 15-25 commandos (the small size helps in infiltrating deep into the jungle) properly equipped with night vision glasses, bullet proof vests, sleeping bags and dry rations. Drawn from the state police force, these forces have first-hand knowledge of the topography and are also in a better position to gain intelligence from the local population, considered crucial for any counter-insurgency operations. The best part of such forces is that they function more or less independently which enables them to take decisions on the ground.
The present internal security scare calls for more Special Forces (like Greyhounds). The states infested with Naxalism have been demanding additional forces from the centre (Jharkhand is demanding 12,000 additional forces, Chattisgarh 8,000 while Orissa has demanded 5,000 Para-military personnel) to meet the threat. However instead of providing these states the additional forces, it would be more economical and feasible for the Centre to raise more Special Task Forces, an indication of which was visible when the Prime Minister gave the assurance that it will look into the formation of more of such commando forces on the pattern of Greyhounds.
Considering the fact that the virus of left-wing extremism has spread its tentacles in thirteen states of the country, the governments in the states as well as the Centre need to act without further delay.