Cops fight Maoists with lathis

Police personnel posted in the naxal-affected areas being given special target practice training with AK-47 rifles at the Bariatu Firing Range in Ranchi on Saturday. PTI

Armed to the teeth, the Maoists on the the hand carry guns, grenades, mortars and rocket launchers.“It’s a war you can describe as ‘sticks versus mortars’. In several jungle areas where police stations are vulnerable to Maoist attacks, the cops have access to either obsolete weapons or lathis. The basic thought is not to arm policemen as the Maoists can take off with their weapons,” a police source said.

A senior police officer with over 15 years of posting in the Maoist-infested areas said: “The Centre as well as the Chhattisgarh government have the will to crush the insurgents, but lack vision and strategy. This has left hundreds of policemen in the forested interiors at the mercy of the Maoists.

“The nation should know a bitter fact that several policemen of constable rank and mostly armed with lathis salute local Maoist leaders daily in the thickly forested and largely inaccessible areas to ensure they are alive. But, in Raipur and New Delhi, politicians and ministers claim that the days of the Maoists are numbered.”The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), in a recently released report on the government of Chhattisgarh for the year ended March 31, 2009, said: “The police department had a total of 49,143 units of weapons, of which 11,232 units (23 per cent) were obsolete such as .303 rifles, .410 muskets, .38 revolvers, .303 light machine guns (LMG) and grenade firing (GF) rifles. But they were still in use.”

The report noted that Chhattisgarh is facing a shortage of 20 per cent of the required weapons. “Police headquarters had assessed a total requirement of 47,265 units (of weapons) under various categories, against which the availability was 37,911 units only. Therefore, there was an overall shortage of 9,354 units (20 per cent of the requirement) for the whole state,” the CAG said.

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