New Delhi: After discarding them for anti-Naxal operations, CRPF has decided to shift its heavy armoured mine protected vehicles (MPVs) to Kashmir for use by its troops deployed on road and convoy protection duties in the counter-insurgency grid.
A few years back, the paramilitary force had rolled back and stationed over 50 such troop carrying vehicles in its camps in various Left Wing Extremism (LWE) affected states after a number of IED blasts targeting these four-wheelers killed a number of troops and maimed many.
CRPF Director General Prakash Mishra said the force has cut down the use of these vehicles for anti-Naxal operations “drastically” and to a “bare minimum”.
“We are not keen (to use MPVs) at all in LWE areas but may be we need them in Kashmir for road opening duties. They (MPVs) are not being used at all (in Naxal-hit areas) except for very acute emergency like evacuation of causalities but with helicopters around they have a very limited role now. We are trying to shift them (MPVs) to Kashmir,” the DG said, adding they will be used to protect troops conducting road opening and convoy protection duties.
Patrol parties in the Maoist-affected areas have been strictly asked to move on foot or use motorbikes in order to avoid casualties caused by hidden improvised explosive devices and land mines, which even targeted the MPVs inflicting heavy damage.
Talking about its operations in Jammu and Kashmir, the CRPF DG said the force was now getting increased responsibility to sanitise roads and protect convoys and hence it desires to do away with static duties being done by it at present, especially in the Valley.
Because of this new task, Mishra said, there are no immediate plans to reduce the number of CRPF personnel in the state. He said CRPF presence in the state may remain at the present level or even increase.
“We are giving more importance to road opening and sanitisation tasks. This task does not work in isolation as we need corridor protection and both flanks of a road have to be covered. Hence, we need men to cover flanks.
“Initially, army was doing it (road opening) but now that they are not doing it, we will like our forces to come out of static duties in the Valley and basically protect our men who do the road opening task,” he said.
There have been numerous incidents in the past when militants have attacked CRPF road opening parties taking advantage of their linear presence on a long track in the Kashmir Valley. The force has about 60 battalions in J and K for duty. Each battalion has about 1,000 personnel.
In the LWE grid, IED blasts accounted for about 70 per cent causalities in the lead anti-Naxal operations force till some years back. Given the limited role of MPVs in protecting its men in these areas from IED blasts, the force had virtually stopped using them.
These heavy armoured carriers, when blown up or toppled in an IED blast, caused massive shock leading to greater casualties.