Crack-60/ C-60

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1990-2018: an overview of a success story

Soumitra Bose, Force of hand-picked tribals which fights the guerrilla like a guerrilla, March 23, 2018: The Times of India

Crack-60 or C-60, a special combat team of Gadchiroli district in eastern Vidarbha, Maharashtra, has emerged as a potent force against left-wing extremism, that other states have also been advised to form.

The force was formed towards the end of 1990 when KP Raghuvanshi was SP of Gadchiroli. He supervised the grooming of local tribals in guerrilla warfare to counter the Maoists, who used similar tactics to target the forces.

The incumbent DGP (legal and technical) SP Yadav, as additional SP of state antinaxal operations (ANO) then, had hand-picked the tribals for the C-60.

Against the backdrop of increasing Maoist activities in the tribal and backward district of Gadchiroli, the state government had chalked out an action plan in 1989-90 to curb the menace. The Reds, apart from occasionally killings tribals, had started ambushing security forces. To counter the Maoists, the government and the police department had then decided to create a separate force by training the indigenous people.

Initially, around 100 tribals were selected for the unit. Later, 60 were groomed in guerrilla tactics. Beginning with two teams of 30 each, Yadav led the fight against the Maoists successfully in the district.

On their training, Yadav said he had formulated a unique way to prepare the C-60 force. “We picked up clues about the tactics used by Maoists from their seized literature and devised our own training methods. After training, our tribal cops started giving back the Maoists the dose of their own medicine,” he said.

The tribal cops were selected for their knowledge of the topography of the forested and hilly regions intersected with numerous riverines, language and culture, he added.

Yadav said he looked for some queer physical abilities among the tribal cops including ability to walk or run in the forest without making noise, remain perched atop a tree silently for hours, etc.


2009: Gadchiroli's policemen: Brave, yet unrewarded

November 12, 2009: NDTV

The police training ground in Gadchiroli has an odd sight - civilian families camping in a corner. The Naxals forced them out of their homes for letting their sons join the police force.

"The Naxals would threaten us. They said, hand over your son to us. I have 26 acres land, a TV set and a motorcycle. I left everything behind and came away in the night," relates Tukaram Rajaram Kerame of Belargondi Village.

The sons of these tribals joined the C60 commandos of Gadchiroli - the crack anti-Naxal unit at the forefront of Operation Greenhunt in Maharashtra. Set up in 1992, the unit mostly comprise tribal villagers who know the local topography well and have an edge in operations. 17 years later, they are armed with better guns, but their battle remains as bloody and unrewarded.

"We know the jungle well. Naxals fear that we can disrupt their activities. That's why they are so opposed to tribals joining the police force," explains Constable Chinnavenda.

But the C60 men say their valour is never recognised. Not a single bravery award has come their way since 1992; nor have choppers, which are crucial in these dense forests.

"My jawans often corner me, asking why we are not getting a helicopter when it is required," says Superintendent of Police S Jayakumar.

2009: routine patrol repulses Naxals

October 6, 2009: The Hindustan Times

A Naxalite was killed today in a police encounter in Murumgaon area of Gadchiroli district, police said.

About 30 to 40 Naxalites opened fire on the police team of C-60 group, who were on a routine patrolling duty, promptly returned fire on them, they said.

The C-60 a specialised Naxal crack team armed with sophisticated weapons were on a routine patrolling when the Naxalites opened fire on the police team on which the crack team fired on the Naxalites killing one of them, police said.

Police recovered the body of a Naxal member, who is yet to be identified, police said.

The encounter lasted for about half an hour, police said, adding, Naxals managed to fled from the scene.

2015-17: Reworked strategy, better equipment led to success

Rashmi Rajput, Gadchiroli encounter: Reworked strategy, better equipment led to success, April 26, 2018: The Indian Express

While 46 encounters took place in 2017, there were 36 in 2016 and 30 in 2015. Until March this year, 19 encounters have already been held.

The 2014 landmine blast in the forest between Pavimuranda and Murmuri villages in Chamorshi taluka of Gadchiroli district, in which seven policemen were killed, had prompted the Maharashtra Police to rework its strategy in identifying and handling of improvised explosive devices. Since then much has changed. Vehicle patrols have been stopped with patrolling on foot becoming a norm. And the figures are an indication of this change in the standard operating procedure.

Until March this year, 1,455 short-range patrols were carried out by the Gadchiroli police and its crack team of C-60 commandos. Last year, over 5,600 short-range foot patrols were carried out by the two forces. Long-range patrol was almost half — 574 until March this year and over 2,700 last year. In the last four years, over 150 personnel underwent training on handling of explosives imparted by NSG, Maharashtra Intelligence Academy (MIA) and CRPF’s Institute of Improvised Explosive Device (IED). Two bomb detection and disposal squad (BDDS) units have been set up at Gadchiroli and Pranhita and every police station has a smaller sub-division BDDS unit. “Vehicles are prone to IED attacks and therefore, we have minimised their use and asked our men to carry out foot patrolling… owing to this, there has been a spurt in short range patrols carried on foot. This helps in ensuring that the movements remain elusive. Also, major police movements is preceded by road opening exercise,” said a senior official.

Other than the change in SOP, last year, the Maharashtra Police had gone on a procurement spree and provided much-needed firepower to the Gadchiroli police and its C-60 commandos. Among those procured include over 2,500 urban barrel grenade launchers (UBGLs), over 100 night vision binoculars, over 50 rifle mounted thermal imagers as well as over 500 bullet resistant helmets and 2,300 bullet resistance jackets.

“In Sunday’s encounter, the UBGLs helped in ensuring that we had a mass kill. The grenades were lobbed using UBGL… The speciality of an UBGL is that once lobbed, it helps us to attack a wider area of around 30 to 50 m. This helps us save firearms. Our men have been given clear instructions not to indulge in burst fire but fire each round with discretion. This helps us to engage the other party longer,” said an official in the DGP office. While the Gadchiroli police has five drones, it is now in the process of procuring two to three unmmaned aerial vehicles (UAVs). “Drones are used only in open areas… a vast stretch in Gadchiroli is covered with thick canopy and drones cannot be used there, but they have been very beneficial,” said the official.

On the use of technology, police said that 58 posts in Gadchiroli are connected through video-conferencing. Each post has a video conferencing facility and all 58 are connected through video-conferencing. This help share information in real time,” said an official.

The other difference has been the installation of over 50 BSNL mobile towers near police posts and on an elevation, so that these could provide the best connectivity. “One of the constant demands from our men was the need to communicate with their family members. But now, we have installed over 50 BSNL mobile towers. This way, our men remain in touch with their family, providing them with the drive that keeps them going. Patrolling is grueling and a tiresome exercise…. now with cell towers at every post, the personnel can call home as soon as he reaches a post. This keeps them cheerful and connected,” said the official. In the last three years, there have been a steady rise in encounters.

While 46 encounters took place in 2017, there were 36 in 2016 and 30 in 2015. Until March this year, 19 encounters have already been held.

While last year, 19 Maosits were neutralised, in 2016, 11 were killed and in 2015, two were gunned down. Till March this year, 23 Maoists have been killed. In April, 39 have been killed in two encounters at Kasanasur jungle and Kapewancha area of Rajaram Khandla post — the highest ever by the Maharashtra Police.

2016: Naxals murder constable, villagers face C-60 wrath

Soumittra S Bose, Gadchiroli villagers face wrath of C-60 team after Naxals murder constable, August 24, 2018: The Times of India

People in Reknar village in Etapalli taluka were at the receiving end of the police wrath on March 13 when a Crack-60 team of Hedri police post thrashed them in retaliation of murder of constable Deepak Sedmake two days earlier by Naxalites. A minor, force fed with chilli powder that had also been inserted in his anus, was among several to be tortured on the suspicion of having helped Naxalite team that gunned down Sedmake.

State chief minister Devendra Fadnavis in his last tour in the Naxal-affected district had sought to win heart with his development mantra. State director general of police Praveen Dixit had also appealed to the people to join hands with the security agencies 'police mitra' to dent the mass base of the rebels. Against the backdrop of government and police's own citizen-friendly approach, the high-handedness of C-60 squad left many people shocked.

The squad stormed into the Reknar village, around five kilometers from Hedri, early morning dragging out people from their homes. The villagers were assembled at the Ghotul or community centre before the commandos started raining blows on them mercilessly using hands and also canes. Several women were also beaten in their home as the menfolk were dragged out.

Ranu Pungati, in his teens, was the worst victim when red chilli powder was thrust down his throat. Unconfirmed sources also claimed that Pungati, who worked at family owned farm, had to be rushed to hospital when some chilli powder was also smeared and pushed into his anus.

Dasrath Usendi, a local farmer, said four villagers bore the brunt of police atrocity while others were slapped and kicked.

"After having vented their wrath, police also whisked away four people to their post but released them in the evening," he said "A day later, villagers lodged protest before tehsildar and sub-divisional police officer (SDPO) but nothing happened," he said.

Earlier, sources from Hedri said police had rounded up several traders from the weekly market where the constable was killed. The traders were also thrashed at the camp. According to a source, two traders sustained fractures due to beating. A local source in Etapalli said the injury reports of the traders were later fudged under police pressure too to show they had suffered a fall from tree.

Inspector general of police, Nagpur and Naxal range, Ravindra Kadam condemned the thrashing stating such incidents only pushed back the initiatives several years behind. "We have already called for explanation from the post in-charge and commander of the force at Hedri holding them responsible for the high-handedness. Actions would follow after the explanations are received," said Kadam. Download The Times of India News App for Latest City News.

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