Greyhounds in search of home

It has taken far too long for the State to set up a base and training centre for the force in Andhra

September 12, 2022 12:15 am | Updated 01:21 am IST

Greyhounds constables in Visakhapatnam district. File

Greyhounds constables in Visakhapatnam district. File | Photo Credit: The Hindu

All is not well with the Greyhounds, the elite anti-Maoist force and a role model for all Left Wing Extremism-affected States, after the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh in 2014. As per the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, the men and material of Greyhounds were to be shared by Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. Both the training centres of the Greyhounds — Premavathipet and Gandipet — were located in Hyderabad, and so the Act specified that Andhra Pradesh would have to set up its own base and training centre. In 2014, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs sanctioned ₹209 crore for setting it up. Of this, about ₹9 crore was immediately released. Eight years have passed, but Andhra Pradesh still does not have a training centre for the force. The ₹9 crore remains untouched.

The Greyhounds force was formed in 1989 by K.S. Vyas, an IPS officer, to combat the growing Maoist threat in Andhra Pradesh. The Maoist movement in the State began with the Srikakulam uprising in 1967. Though it was quashed intially, it was soon revived and picked up momentum. Vyas envisioned a force that would think alike in terms of combat and assault and be well-trained in guerilla and jungle warfare. Over the years, with its many successes, this special police force became the root cause for the downfall of Left Wing Extremism in Andhra Pradesh. It inspired the creation of other similar forces to fight the Maoists: Odisha developed the Special Operations Group; Maharashtra, the C-60; and West Bengal, the Counter Insurgency Force. Experts say that the CoBRA battalion of the Central Reserve Police Force, which is engaged in anti-Maoist operations in Chhattisgarh, is also fashioned on the lines of the Greyhounds.

Immediately after the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh, a Greyhounds contingent was moved to the operational base at Thimmapuram in Visakhapatnam. Spread over about 300 acres in forested land, this operational base was said to be a makeshift arrangement for the force. Though about 18 companies of the Greyhounds have moved to Thimmapuram, about 10 remaining ones of Andhra Pradesh are still based in Hyderabad.

The Andhra Pradesh Cabinet gave its nod for the establishment of a full-fledged training centre-cum-residential facility for the Greyhounds and a Government Order was passed. The State government identified about 385 acres of land at Jagannadhapuram village of Chandaka panchayat of Anandapuram mandal in Visakhapatnam for the purpose. But not a stone has been moved yet, as there are rehabilitation and resettlement issues.

The land identified, officials say, was being cultivated by some farmers. The government agreed to pay them a compensation of about ₹9 crore. But as per senior officials from the district administration, a few politicians have fraudulently incorporated a few other names to take the demand for compensation to around ₹22 crore.

Senior police officials say that the identified land is perfect to convert it into a training centre-cum-operational base. If required, some part of the land can also be earmarked as the training centre for Octopus (Organisation for Counter Terrorist Operations), another elite counter terrorism unit of the Andhra Pradesh police, they say. But no one knows when this will happen. The Union Government is apparently exerting pressure on the State for a quick solution. It is time for the State to resolve the issue as it has taken far too long for the Greyhounds to find their home in Andhra Pradesh.

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