IED attacks a major threat, looking for better solutions: CRPF DG

Calling IED attacks a “major threat”, the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) chief on Thursday said even the best technology available currently is “not perfect” and the force is scouting for better solutions to stop troop casualties caused by these crude bombs.

“Yes, it is a major threat. There are tools to detect IEDs (improvised explosive devices) but none of them is perfect. This is a field in which internationally all organisations are trying,” CRPF director general A P Maheshwari said during a press conference.

He was asked if they have found a technology that effectively checks this menace that has claimed the lives of hundreds of CRPF troops and maimed many others in the last decade.

IED attacks are majorly carried out in the Maoist violence-affected states and the CRPF said it has detected 460 such devices from all across the country, including Jammu and Kashmir and northeastern states.

As many as 418 recoveries of these crude explosives, hidden beneath black top roads and jungle tracks to target security forces, have been recovered from the Naxal violence-hit areas in 2020.

The DG said IED attacks are a “challenge” for the security forces and the menace gets magnified in the core Left Wing Extremism (LWE) affected areas as one “cannot even walk an inch without being careful”.

The core areas are heavily mined and even deep search metal detectors are not really useful, he said.

There are minerals of different kinds beneath the earth and hence the gadgets do not function efficiently, the DG said.

“However, whatever best technology is available they are with us. Even DRDO and IIT-Delhi are working on it (IED detection solutions).”

“Globally we are making surveys like in Israel and the US. But yes there is a lot of scope of improvement and agencies are working on it. As soon as they are available, we will be the first to induct them,” he said.

Vikas Singhal, a Deputy Commandant-rank officer of the CRPF’s specialised jungle warfare commando unit CoBRA, was killed after he suffered fatal injuries due to an IED blast in Chhattisgarh’s Sukma district in December last year.

The DG refuted that there was any “laxity” in evacuating the officer or there was a “delay” in providing medical care to him, saying people on the spot tried their level best.

The force is putting in place some “systemic improvements” to ensure that injured troops are provided medical care as quickly as possible.

“I have had a series of meetings with my officers after the wife of the martyr talked to me and raised some concerns.”

“We are taking certain more measures like creation of helipads at forward bases for quick evacuation of injured personnel, providing more life saving equipments, posting more surgeons in remote areas and training all the personnel in undertaking first-aid like those from the medical wing,” the DG said.

“Every situation is a new situation and we analyse and take measures. We are doing our best for our troops,” he said.

The DG said the CRPF has recently created five field surgical units or health care centres in the remote anti-Naxal operation bases in south Chhattisgarh to ensure that the “golden hour” of saving a life is not lost.

Talking about operations in Jammu and Kashmir, the DG said a total of 215 terrorists were killed by security forces there last year.

The force also apprehended 251 militants while eight surrendered before it, according to official data.

“We are in complete integration with other agencies like local police and the Army. We don’t deny the possibility of radicalisation (of the local youth) through various means. As the trends go, the youngsters from within the local population are getting incited…but they are getting neutralised,” he said.

He said the “overall situation (in Jammu and Kashmir) is under control and we are prepared to meet any oscillation on that security grid.”

“We have also made deeper inroads into the local population. Things are changing (in JK) and people are also supporting us. JK is an integral part of the country. We would like that prosperity comes there and there is complete assimilation and whatever the barriers are, they are removed. Complete assimilation thought-wise should also be there,” he said.

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