In order to enhance the security situation in Bastar district, Chhattisgarh, in Central India, the Centre (Union Home Ministry) is planning to raise a special battalion, Bastar Battalion, which will be done by recruiting people from the Bastar district only. There-fore, several recruitment parameters have been relaxed, considering this as an employ-ment opportunity for the locals.
Several districts of nine states in India have been under the grip of Left Wing Extremism (LWE) from over the last five decades, including the districts of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha and Uttar Pradesh.
To contain and control the areas held by the Maoist Guerrillas (People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army), India has deployed the paramilitary force, Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF). There are 79 battalions posted in the affected districts. One of the worst affected is the Bastar region.
Now India is all set to raise an exclusive tribal battalion that will be comprised of local boys. The new battalion is part of the CRPF and it is the first time that such an exclusive battalion is being raised out of the local population in LWE area.
A senior official in the Union Home Ministry overseeing the formation of the new battalion pointed out that the tribals have natural skills: “They have high stakes and know well the terrain, climatic conditions, history of the area and locals. As they belong to that area, they are sensitive”.
Enhanced approach to defend
The new battalion will be stationed in Bastar and will be known as ‘Bastar Battalion’. The recruitment will focus on four Bastar districts – Sukma, Bijapur, Dantewada and Narayanpur. In order to attract local tribal talent, the recruitment parameters have been relaxed.
As Bastar tribals are characteristically short-statured and are of thin frame, Union Home Ministry has relaxed the physical standards for their induction. The threshold for height has been brought down from 160 cm (five feet two inches) to 155.5 cm (five feet one inch), and chest (un-expanded) from 76 cm to 74.5 cm. The weight requirement has also been reduced accordingly. Besides, the educational qualification too has been relaxed.
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, who approved these relaxations, believes that it will help the local tribal youth to get well placed jobs and help them in keeping distance from Naxalism.
This is not the first time that such a battalion is being raised from local people. In the past, India has raised Naga battalion in Nagaland. Also, surrendered militants in the terrorism affected Jammu and Kashmir have been absorbed in Border Security Force, Indian Army and Rashtriya Rifles.