Appointments Committee will take a decision by week-end

The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) is likely to decide on new Director-General of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) by this week-end as K. Vijay Kumar hung up his boots on Sunday after a two-year stint, which will be remembered for his efficient tackling of Left-wing extremism (LWE).

However, Mr. Kumar’s retirement as head of India’s largest paramilitary force was preceded by controversy — he was denied one-year extension by the Prime-Minister-headed ACC despite the former Home Minister, P. Chidambaram, and his successor, Sushilkumar Shinde, pushing for it.

Many Home Ministry officials feel that denying an extension to Mr. Kumar could hamper the government’s efforts in dealing with Maoists as the CRPF had, under Mr. Vijaya Kumar’s tenure, been able to check the growing influence of Maoists in all the nine LWE-affected States.

Mr. Chidambaram had pushed for Mr. Kumar’s extension to ensure the completion of several crucial changes and plans envisaged for the three-lakh strong force. However, it were mainly the service rules that led to the ACC declining Mr. Chidambaram’s proposal, though the Department of Personnel and Training was also in favour of it.

Interestingly, Mr. Kumar, a 1975 batch IPS officer from the Tamil Nadu cadre, was offered a three-month extension instead of one-year stint, but he declined it as, informed sources say, he thought three months were not enough to complete his “pending jobs.”

Notably, the government, last month, gave one-year extension to IPS officer Ajit Lal as chief of the Joint Intelligence Committee. It would have been an unprecedented step as no paramilitary force chief has, in recent times, been given an extension. However, the government’s decision is believed to have been influenced by intense lobbying by senior IPS officers.

A senior Home Ministry official told The Hindu that “bureaucratic hurdles” led to Mr. Kumar being denied the extension. “Now the challenge before the Ministry is to appoint an officer who can successfully carry forward anti-Naxal operations. In the last two years, several LWE-affected districts were cleared of Maoists, [even as] CRPF personnel were able to dent many of their strongholds. At a time when reports suggest that Maoists are regrouping and acquiring modern weapons, one wrong move could derail our fight against Maoists,” the officer said.

The Ministry has reportedly forwarded to the ACC names of three senior IPS officers — Rajasthan DGP H.C. Meena, Odisha DGP Manmohan Praharaj and National Security Guards DG Subhash Joshi for the post.

Mr. Praharaj has some experience in dealing with Maoists, Mr. Meena is seen as a “go-getter” and Mr. Joshi had served as CRPF Special DG.

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