MP Government will raise Special Reserved Batallion in Maoist affected Balaghat district

Lalit Shastri

Security drill in naxalite affected Kanker-Bastar (photo by Lalit Shastri)

Security drill in Maoist affected Kanker-Bastar in Chhattisgarh (photo by Lalit Shastri)

Just like Chhattisgarh has raised the Special India Reserved Battalion (SIRB) or the Bharat Rakshit Vahini for the naxalite hit areas, the Madhya Pradesh Government also will now be raising the SIRB in Balaghat district adjoining Chhattisgarh.

The decision to raise the Bharat Rakshit Vahini in Balaghat was taken at a Cabinet Meeting presided over by State Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on Tuesday.

The Police administration in Madhya Pradesh has been seriously concerned about channelising resources by Government of India for a state like Madhya Pradesh, where the Maoists or the naxalites have inflicted casualties in the past and there are more than half a dozen districts where movement of Maoists has been recorded on a number of occasions in recent years.

For more than last four years, the Centre has been routing funds to problem districts in Madhya Pradesh like Balaghat, Dindori, Mandla, Anuppur, Shahdol, Singruali, Sidhi, Umaria and Seoni under the Integrated Action Plan (IAP) to tackle the Maoist problem but since the Planning Commission had made it categorically clear that this money was supposed to be spent on priority areas deserving special focus, the Police outfit in the problem districts had been kept out of the loop when it came to the IAP funds.

Balaghat is a sensitive district from the nxalites angle. The naxalites have been active in this district over the past few years. After a police jawan had been killed and another was injured in a naxal ambush in the Timkitola forest in the Lanji Police station area of Balaghat district in September 2011, Naxalite movement has been detected continuously in this area.

In 2010, the State Chief Minister had even raised the State’s demand to declare 7 Madhya Pradesh districts as naxalite affected during a meeting with the then Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram. The districts projected by the chief minister as naxalite affected were Shahdol, Anuppur, Singrauli, Sidhi, Balaghat, Mandla and Dindori. He had also sought two India Reserve battalions for Madhya Pradesh. At that time the demand to declare these districts as naxalite affected did not meet the Centre’s criteria. The Union Home Ministry had then taken the position that only those districts where the naxalites were attacking targets and inflicting casualties would be declared as naxalite affected.

Even before the State’s bifurcation and creation of Chhattisgarh in the year 2000, the naxalites were active in certain areas of Madhya Pradesh. They were behind the murder of State Minister for Transport Likhiram Kavre in his native village in Balaghat district in December 1999. Much before this incident, the naxalites had made deep inroads even in the Kanha National Park and were responsible for setting vast areas of forest on fire in April 1990. After the Likhiram Kavre murder, some Police chowkis (posts) were removed from the naxalite affected areas of Balaghat district.

The decision to raise SIRB in Balaghat is significant as the Maoists were now using Madhya Pradesh territory to regroup themselves.

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