Maharashtra: police

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This is a collection of articles archived for the excellence of their content.
Additional information may please be sent as messages to the Facebook
community, All information used will be gratefully
acknowledged in your name.


C-60 commandos

As in 2021

Dec 16, 2021: The Times of India

What it takes to be a C-60 commando
From: Dec 16, 2021: The Times of India

At the gallantry memorial at Gadchiroli, which falls in eastern Vidarbha, Maharashtra, there is a long foyer where 212 photographs of martyrs adorn the walls with the Ashoka Chakra (wheel of the law) at the centre. Curiously, there are four empty hooks next to the portraits, and all efforts are being made to keep them that way.

The photographs belong to the Gadchiroli police personnel who died fighting Naxalites in the last three decades. (Only four of them are women.) And as you take a walk in the 1,000-plus sq ft memorial, inaugurated on September 28, 2020, you can’t help but feel overwhelmed by the stories of valour, courage and self-sacrifice you bear witness.

This year is particularly significant for the Gadchiroli police because they haven’t lost a single personnel in battle. Moreover, the police killed 27 Naxals in an encounter in the forest last month, which included senior cadre Milind Teltumbde. For this, most of the credit goes to C-60, a team of elite commandos — similar to the Greyhound forces in Telangana and the SOG special units in Andhra Pradesh — formed in 1990 by the (now-retired) DGP KP Raghuvanshi, to fight the insurgents.

Another war

“Just as how war is fought on the border, a similar war is being fought here in Gadchiroli,” Sandip Patil, deputy general of police, Naxal Range (DIG-Gadchiroli and Gondia districts), tells TOI+. Last week, we visited the region to spend time with the commanders of C-60 to understand what kind of training the commandoes undergo to fight the Naxals and how India’s internal war on terror is just as dangerous and difficult as the external one. Things, in fact, can get trickier here, given that there is a serious trust deficit between the state and locals and there’s great empathy among the people for the enemy. It is also important for any force to know the lay of the land as over 75% of Gadchiroli is under thick forest cover.

This is why when the government began recruiting a team of 60 all-male of commanders — that’s how got its C-60 name — from villages around, finding local participation was not easy. The terror of Naxals here is such that anyone who is even rumoured to be helping the police can face an attack.

“For years I never got to visit my parents or relatives. I would have to call them to the police colony to spend time with me,” a former C-60 commando tells us, who is now working with the district police. “A visit to my native place would add risk to my family's safety.”

Getting to be a C-60 commander is also not easy and takes a long time of conditioning. “Once recruited, the candidate is trained and sent to armed outposts,” says Patil. “There, their performance is evaluated before being selected for C-60 force. The most competent male candidates are then given training after which they spend three to four years at the post.”

Post-training, commanders are given different responsibilities within the force. In all, there are around 27 teams of C-60 and each comprises around 25 members. Each team is a “party” and they have a commander who has two deputies.

Unrest central 
 Gadchiroli is particularly vulnerable given that it shares its border with Chhattisgarh (formerly part of Madhya Pradesh) and Telangana (erstwhile Andhra Pradesh), both of which have been marred by Naxal violence over the decades. Even though the district has about 110 Naxal operatives today, police claim that a fresh influx from other states is a cause of constant worry.

According to the police, Gadchiroli saw its first Naxal, Peddi Shankar in Sironcha taluka, around the time the district was being carved from Chandrapur district, in 1982, and things have gotten steadily worse. Since 2000, Gadchiroli police claim to have killed over 273 Naxals and got 649 surrenders. In 2000, while only two Naxals were killed, this year alone, the C-60 special force has killed 49 Naxals. “The percentage of outsiders in the total Naxal strength in the district was 15% some eight years ago, today it is over 40%,” says Ankit Goyal, SP Gadchiroli. “This indicates dwindling local support though.”

Run through the jungle 
 The main job of the C-60 force is to root out anti-national elements. The C-60 party commanders after 15-20 years of service then graduate to become instructors as they have the adequate experience to carry out operations.

Each commando has to undergo daily rigorous training. This includes carrying their utensils and ration, weighing about 15-20kg, on their back, while travelling on foot, especially in the forest as a vehicle is deemed a huge security risk.

Only sometimes, the C-60 commandos are airlifted by chopper. And when there is a movement in the forest, they have to wear plain T-shirts and camouflage bottoms to avoid detection.

Sometimes, a ‘bomb detective vehicle’ and ‘vehicle-mounted mine detection’ first have to clear the road before they are dropped in an area. And only in the monsoon and winters, they are allowed to use a plastic tent. At all times, however, a personnel is always on guard for the team. No commando is authorised to walk alone in the forest. (A two-member team is called ‘buddies’.)

Living in the forest and covering your tracks is not easy. From going to the toilet in the open to lighting a fire to cook food, the commandos have to ensure that they do so without being spotted by the enemy. And while they depend on the streams for drinking water, they can’t afford the risk to camp next to one.

“Two years ago my friend went inside the forest with his party, but never returned,” says a commando. “It still hurts me. His vehicle was ambushed and we couldn’t find any remains of his, not even a bone. Once on the field, we are all in the same boat, be it officers or commandos. We never take any work trips casually.”

Patil explains why the C-60 force works in this way. “The crux of guerrilla warfare is terrain and intelligence,” he says. “A guerrilla tries to take advantage of terrain and they try to cause maximum damage to police forces. So, our force, which is extremely familiar with the local terrain, and is in contact with local communities, now has better intelligence.”

Stealth mode 
 Initially, the C-60 were trained in other states, but now mainly with the help of senior members, all personnel are trained in Gadchiroli. Some 20km from the SP office, there is also a special training centre, where they operate. When the personnel return from jungle duty, they are allowed to stay with their families. Since there is no residential camp for the commandos, they have to stay in close distance from the district headquarters. There is also a special hospital to look after their mental and physical well-being.

Naxals also keep the C-60 force on their toes as they keep changing their strategy and have sophisticated weapons like AK-47 and SLRs, and they use grenades. “The enemy has such heavy firepower that you can imagine what kind of weaponry and military tactics we require [to take them on],” Patil adds.

Unlike other state police, the Gadchiroli police and C-60 force wear camouflage uniforms. They put no shining stars on their shoulders, but it is embossed on their uniform. The colour and the type of their shoes are also different and more compatible to run and walk in the jungle and crossing rivers.

Apart from fighting insurgents, the C-60 is also tasked with developing trust with the locals and helping enforce governance. Despite their tagline, “veer bhogya vasundhara” — which means “The brave win the earth” — even they know that to win this war, it is not only about fighting, but also winning the hearts and minds of villagers to ensure that Naxal ideology doesn’t gain traction.

What keeps the commandos going is that they get cash rewards and other incentives for the service they do, along with awards and recognition. If they get killed by Naxals, for instance, their family will receive cash and other compensation for their service. The whole operation essentially depends on keeping everyone’s faith in the Indian Constitution and that is what makes this war most tricky.

Personnel issues

Constables’ promotions/ 2021

Mohamed Thaver, Oct 16, 2021: The Indian Express

What was the decision announced by the Maharashtra government regarding police ranks in the state?

The Maharashtra Home Minister Dilip Walse Patil tweeted that a proposal sent by the Maharashtra DGP Sanjay Pandey to scrap the most of Police Naik (PN) was approved in a meeting. The decision will impact nearly 45000 constables in the state police force.

How does scrapping of the Police Naik post benefit the constabulary?

Until this decision, a police constable (PC) would get promoted to Police Naik (PN) after 10 years of service and later in another 10 years move to the Head Constable (HC) rank, and retire as Assistant Sub Inspectors (ASI) – one star officers – after around 30 plus years of service.

The decision to scrap the post of PN will ensure that every Constable (PC) who joins the force has the opportunity to retire at least as a Police Sub Inspector (PSI) – a two star officer – in the force. A PC could be promoted to ASI within 20 years, leaving enough time before retirement to be posted as SI. Retiring as PSI will mean a higher pension as compared to retirement as ASI apart from having more powers like investigating cases.

The decision will impact around 45000 personnel of the Maharashtra police Constabulary.

How will promotions be made? Are they done on the basis of internal examinations?

Under the new system, the earlier requirement that an ASI needs to pass an internal examination to become SI been scrapped. All promotions will be done based on length of service and merit.

What impact will the decision have on the working of the police force?

The change will bring in younger head constables. This will result in a 3-fold increase in the investigating force, as head constables, unlike Naiks, have investigating powers. It will also mean younger investigators.

Have there been any other changes proposed in the structure of the force?

The DGP office is in the process of sending another proposal suggesting that the rank of Assistant Police Inspector (ASI) should be scrapped too. That would enable a PSI to go from Police Inspector to ACP and eventually retire at Superintendent of Police (SP) rank. This proposal too should be soon sent to the Home Department seeking their approval.

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