Redraw strategy, PC tells Raipur


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Union Home Minister P Chidambaram has asked the Chhattisgarh government to take a second look at the way central forces are deployed in the state, following the massacre of 27 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) jawans in the jungles of Narayanpuri on Tuesday.

Given its terrain, Narayanpuri district was a difficult district to police, Chidambaram said, a fact the Maoists took full advantage of.

He said the deployment - made periodically over the past three years - had never been changed, while the ground situation - and the deployment of state police - may well have altered considerably.

"I have spoken to the chief minister and said that some of these deployments must be revisited," Chidambaram said.

Delhi wants central forces to be deployed in areas where they have a defined operational objective. It wants the state government to ensure that they are not needlessly exposed to Maoist attacks.

The home ministry's first assessment on Tuesday's Maoist ambush is that CRPF personnel are being unnecessarily exposed to risks without any commensurate gain.

In Raipur, Chhattisgarh's Director General of Police Vishwaranjan, other senior police officials and the CRPF chiefs remained closeted in meetings through the day.

After a meeting chaired by Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh, Ram Niwas, Additional Director General (Anti-Naxal) said they were working on a change the strategy against the Naxals in light of the attack. He refused to divulge details.

Other officers said that central representatives in the state capital had made their unhappiness over the casualties abundantly clear. "The message was strongly communicated to the state to get the things right," a police source said.

The new plan will go in for deploying forces on a grid pattern - enabling them to secure a wide area - rather than station them as isolated units.

Tuesday's incident occurred when 63 CRPF personnel - members of a party escorting out colleagues who were going on leave - were returning to their camp.

They were about 3 km from their camp when Maoists attacked the rear end of the convoy. Initial inquiries suggest that contrary to guidelines, the personnel were travelling in large groups. They also did not appear to have secured the hilltops on both sides of the road before traveling on it.

Chidambaram refused to go into whether standard operating procedures had been violated by the CRPF party that was attacked.