25,000 troops to take on Maoists

New Delhi: More than 25,000 battle-hardened paramilitary personnel will be deployed from November in the jungles of three Maoist-infested states, as the Centre inches closer to a massive security offensive against the insurgents.

The troops will lay siege to about 7,000 square kilometres in the tri-junction between Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Orissa, which is the red brigade's 'liberated zone'. It is from there that the Maoists freely move across seven states for attacks, and it is there that they mostly return for safety.

Sources said around 12,000 of the personnel for deployment will be from Kashmir. Another major chunk, of about 7,000, will come from Tripura and Mizoram, where they are already fighting insurgency.

Over 70,000 paramilitary personnel secure the Kashmir valley alone.

At present, the number of security personnel in the Maoist tri-junction is 25,000 while the total deployment in Maoist-infested states is 35,000. The 35,000 personnel cover an area of over 39,000 square kilometres.

"The broad plan is to surround and secure the area slowly. The greatest difficulty personnel face is the vast stretch of area that has to be covered, but there is a lack of manpower," said a senior home ministry official. He said they suspect that most of the major Maoist attacks are planned in the jungles of this region in the tri-junction.

Apart from the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), the Centre has roped in the Border Security Force (BSF) and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) to secure the area.