Strengthening its resolve to flush out Maoists from the jungles of Chhattisgarh, the CRPF has decided to deploy 2000 more of its crack commandos, the CoBRAs, in Naxal-infested Sukma district.
The CoBRA (Commando Battalion for Resolute Action) are masters of guerrilla warfare and are capable of operating in the dense jungles of southern Chhattisgarh – the self-proclaimed headquarters of the Maoists.
As per reports, the CRPF has set in motion the operation to mobilise at least 20 to 25 companies of from their present locations in West Bengal, Bihar, Telangana and Madhya Pradesh to the Bastar region. To ensure speedy deployment, most of the soldiers will be airlifted from their current location.
A CoBRA company has about 100 personnel each.
Sukma and its adjoining areas have witnessed some of the deadliest ambushes on security forces recently, like the one where 25 CRPF personnel were killed in the Burkapal area of the district on April 24, and on March 11, twelve CRPF personnel were killed by Naxals in Sukma.
CoBRA commandos are highly trained and carry out targeted action on enemy hideouts with minimal collateral damage.
“The CoBRA teams will specifically be used to increase the kill ratio of the forces and deliver heavy blows to the Naxals TCOC campaign,” a CRPF the official said.
The Tactical Counter Offensive Campaign (TCOC) is launched by Maoists every year in the summer to kill security forces personnel and loot their weapons by catching them off guard when they are either out on a long patrol in the blistering sun or are deployed in these hard terrain areas for protection tasks like road construction and others.
At present, 44 CoBRA teams (of the total 154) are deployed in Chhattisgarh for these operations and all of them are in the Bastar region comprising the districts of Sukma, Dantewada and others.
Some battalions of the Central Reserve Police Force and the Border Security Force will also be “re-deployed” in the Bastar region to target special areas where armed Naxal cadres are active.
In order to assist them, the official said, it has been planned to seek additional flying hours from the Indian Air Force or IAF to undertake more sorties to aid CoBRA operations. At present, an IAF chopper flies a maximum of 120 hours per month which is expected to be raised to 160 hours soon, the officer added.
Two new Joint Command-and-Control Centres will also be established in Gaya in Bihar and East Singhbhum in Jharkhand for the security forces, led by CoBRA, to launch inter-state operations.
A similar control centre is functional in Chhattisgarh’s Jagdalpur where the operations of troops on the ground, helicopter sorties and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) recce missions are handled from one base.
The CoBRA Battalion was raised in 2009 by the central government under CRPF to act as a special guerrilla combat wing for tackling violence perpetrated by Naxalites as well as insurgents in the northeast.