Alarmed at the growing lethal attacks by Maoists, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has decided to rope in retired Brigadiers to plan and assist in anti-Naxal operations in four Left Wing Extremism (LWE)-affected States — Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Odisha and West Bengal.
“The issue was discussed at last week’s Chief Ministers’ Conference on internal security where the four States agreed to the proposal, a senior MHA official told The Hindu. “By next week, we will write to the Ministry of Defence to identify suitable candidates who should have served as Brigadier in the Army’s fighting arm [Infantry]. Once this process is over, a joint interview will be conducted by top officials of the Defence and Home Ministries… we hope to complete the process soon as we want the officers to start operating on the ground within the next couple of months or even earlier.”
However, this is not the first time the MHA has decided to rope in senior Army officers to help in anti-Naxal operations. In 2010, the MHA had asked the same four LWE-affected States to deploy retired Major Generals having experience commanding an Infantry Brigade as Advisors to deal with Maoists. After holding some interviews, the MHA even forwarded a few names to these States. But none of them took a decision.
“It was later conveyed to us that some States were not comfortable with the appointment of former Major Generals as Advisors... They thought it would create seniority and operational issues, affecting anti-Maoist operations,” the officer said.
LWE was described at the conference as “by far the most serious internal security challenge before the country today,” the officer said.