Following nod from the Centre, the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) has decided to keep its eight battalions (8,000 troops) in Chhattisgarh for anti-Naxal operations on a permanent basis on the lines of the Indian Army’s Rashtriya Rifles (RR) deployed in Jammu & Kashmir on a fixed basis.

Earlier, the ITBP troops were rotated every three years from the Naxal theatre and the latest move is aimed at bolstering operations against the ultra-Left extremists in Chhattisgarh, the worst Naxal-hit State, officials said.

“The move to deploy battalions on a permanent basis as against rotational basis in Chhattisgarh will strengthen the anti-Naxal security grid as the troops will not only have a good grasp of the insurgency dynamics but also a better intelligence network,” an official familiar with the decision said.

As many as eight battalions of the ITBP are deployed for anti-Naxal operations in Chhattisgarh. The ITBP is essentially a border guarding force deployed along the 3,488km Line of Actual Control (LAC) along the frontiers with China. In the rotational deployment, the maximum tenure of an ITBP battalion in Chhattisgarh was three years and every time a new battalion was moved in a pre-induction training was imparted in order to familiarise the troops with topography and the extent of the Naxal menace in the area.

The ITBP’s fixed deployment in Chhattisgarh is modelled on RR that is tasked for anti-terror operations in Jammu & Kashmir.

The RR is an elite counter-insurgency unit of the Army and has permanent in terror-hit Jammu and Kashmir and keeps participating in counter-terror operations with the State police and CRPF. Unlike RR, Army’s battalions are rotated on regular basis.

Following the move, the ITBP battalions will be exclusively used against the Naxals and intensify the operations against them in Chhattisgarh.

Besides containing terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir, countering the Naxals is a top priority of the Union Home Ministry that has been harping on intensifying operations against the ultras in Naxalism-hit States.

Out of the strength of 56 battalions of the ITBP, 34 battalions are engaged on securing the LAC, 11 are deployed in internal security and eight in Naxal-hit States and the remaining three battalions are providing protection to important installations and VIPs.