The Army will now train CRPF personnel to tackle the deadly Improvised Explosive Devices, (IEDs) which have claimed lives of more than 100 troops during anti-Naxal operations.

CRPF Director General K. Vijay Kumar recently met Army Chief General V.K. Singh on sharing the expertise of College of Military Training (CME) in Pune to train his men in identifying, detecting and defusing IEDs, which have been found hidden at the depth of more than 15-feet in many cases in States like Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand.

Various IED tracing devices, ‘dip sticks’ used to detect hidden explosives and sniffer dogs have failed to be foolproof and a number of patrol parties, both on foot and in vehicles, have fallen prey to these deadly explosive devices which are sometimes as heavy as 50 kg.

The Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), which is the lead force for anti-Naxal operations in the country, has deployed more than 60 battalions (about 60,000 personnel) in various States and it has lost 105 personnel in the last five years due to IED explosions alone.

“The IEDs have been a major cause of death of personnel belonging to CRPF and other forces operating in the Naxal affected areas. In order to obtain sound expertise to tackle the challenge effectively, the help of the army school is being taken,” a senior CRPF officer said.

In view of the crucial nature of the job, CME has begun training CRPF officers and men at the Group Centre of the paramilitary force in Pune while the CRPF is looking for land in the city to establish an exclusive centre for training in handling IEDs.

The CRPF has recovered 1,547 sets of IEDs during 2006-11 and the numbers have been increasing over the years, according to official data.

According to the ambitious plan to deal with the challenge, army trainers have schooled a few officers and jawans who are operating in Naxal-hit areas and they would subsequently create a pool of experts in prevention, detection, neutralisation, destruction and disposal of IEDs.

An IED bomb data centre, which will act as a repository of such explosive devices, will also be established.

A few army officials will also be sent on deputation to the CRPF to put the exclusive first-ever school in place for the country’s largest paramilitary force with almost three lakh personnel under its command.

According to the CRPF officer, the training of IED detection and neutralisation will also be imparted to personnel belonging to central forces deployed in Jammu and Kashmir and the Northeast, at a later stage.

An IED is a device placed or fabricated in an improvised manner incorporating destructive, lethal and incendiary chemicals and is designed to incapacitate or kill the targets by a distant source of ignition.