West Bengal seeks Andhra help to fight Maoists

P S Jayaram
Filed on October 23, 2011

HYDERABAD - The West Bengal government, in its latest war against Maoists, has sought the help of Andhra Pradesh police which has considerable expertise in tackling left wing extremism.

“We will extend technical and strategic assistance to the West Bengal police including sharing of information about Maoists’ movements,” the state Director-General of Police V Dinesh Reddy told mediapersons in an informal chat.

Stating that “Greyhounds,” the elite anti-Maoist force of Andhra Pradesh police, would assist the West Bengal police in the strategic warfare, the DGP said: “We will also provide technical support to them in the form of satellite imageries to track down the Maoists.”

Andhra Pradesh police has earned nationwide praise for its successful anti-Maoist operations. Once a major hunting ground of Naxalites, the southern state is now largely free of Maoist activity. Since a major chunk of Maoist leadership in the West Bengal hail from Andhra, intelligence inputs from the state would be of great help to the West Bengal police.

“Earlier, there were more than 3,500 strong Maoist cadres in AP. Now, the number has come down to around 340 and most of them have fled to neighbouring states. Some of them like Mallojula Koteshwara Rao alias Kishanji are in West Bengal,” the police chief pointed out.

The officials involved in the anti-Maoist operations attribute the success of “Andhra Model” to effective intelligence gathering and modern training in jungle warfare and guerilla tactics. “Over years, we have developed a robust intelligence network and put in place a separate intelligence wing to keep a constant tab on Maoist activity,” a top police official said.

Recently, the state government has acquired an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) from the Union Home Ministry for a close monitoring of the Maoists activities in deep forests. The UAV, along with a chopper for rescue operations, would take up surveillance operations from November 1. This is likely to be tested in the West Bengal operations.

“The UAV has been procured at a cost of Rs300 million. It will have its base station at Madurapudi in the coastal city of Rajahmundry. It will help us track down the activities of naxalites even in the thick forests and also send back images,” the DGP said. The UAV would carry two payloads, one of which would take images and send the same to the control centre in a flash. “The night vision cameras can take pictures at an angle of even 360 degrees. Naxalites sometimes cook food in forests and even the smoke can be detected,” the police official said.

The Unmanned Aerial Vehicle can fly for eight hours at a stretch and would be used to scan four districts of Telangana, the Dhandakaranya forest region, East Godavari, Visakhapatnam, Vizianagaram, Srikakulam districts and also parts of Chhattisgarh and south and central Orissa on the Andhra-Orissa Border (AOB) area.

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