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Slow & shy in fighting red

Ranchi, March 8: Skeletons have not yet started rattling in the cupboard but there are indications that they might tumble out any time, exposing the criminal negligence shown by the state government in combating armed rebels.

Five years after the central government offered to finance separate India Reserve Battalions (IBRs) to fight Naxalites, the state has made the first move only after the assassination of the Jamshedpur MP, Sunil Mahto. Home secretary Sudhir Tripathi said the proposal would be placed before the next cabinet meeting.

The Centre had set aside Rs 45 crore for Jharkhand to raise and train three IBR battalions. It would have also paid the salary of the personnel but the battalions would have worked under the state government with the rider that they could be deployed anywhere in the country as and when necessary. But the Jharkhand government showed no interest in the scheme.

Worse, the state, it is learnt, is yet to take back a dozen Tata Safaris it sent two years ago to the Indian Ordnance Factory at Medak in Andhra Pradesh for bullet-proofing. Similarly, the state government is yet to get 22 anti-landmine vehicles it had ordered the factory at Medak to deliver.

Sheepish home department officials confided that the failure to persist with "regular follow-ups" had led to other state governments, smarter and alert, to take the vehicles away.

Jharkhand has 78 bullet-proof vehicles and 36 anti-landmine vehicles. But given its size, the state requires many more. They also confided that around 350 wireless sets purchased some two years ago were either not being used or were not very effective. The towers are yet to be constructed to provide them long-range network to connect various police stations, said an officer.

Director-general of police (DGP) J. Mahapatra claimed that even when the state government is ready with the purse to purchase arms, ammunition and special vehicles, it cannot get the desired supply because of the quota fixed by the defence ministry.

Whatever the DGP says, the fact is that till recently the state government had not been able to make up its mind on the agency to be entrusted with the task of constructing new police stations.

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posted by Resistance 3/09/2007 02:17:00 PM,

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