//Animal farm to fend off Maoists

Animal farm to fend off Maoists

Ranchi – Feb. 7. — When the bipeds beat a retreat, bring in the animal brigade. Unable to combat the Naxalite menace in the state, Jharkhand police plan to do just that. Top officers have put in proposals to raise a mounted police corps and a mule squad. Plans are also afoot to train sniffer dogs. “The terrain in some parts of the state, where Maoists have their strongholds, is very inhospitable and access is virtually impossible, at times, even with motorbikes. We had to think about an effective alternative to reach such remote corners,” said a senior officer.
He said the police took more than 12 hours to reach a remote hamlet near Belwaghati in Giridih district late last year, after reports of 15 villagers gunned down by extremists reached them. The officer said that personnel even had to scramble on all four on the last 12-km stretch to the village. “By that time, all fugitives familiar with the topography made their escape,” he added.
The state police headquarters plans to raise 400 well-bred horses for the mounted corps in phases, along with a 200-strong mule squad. About 150 sniffer dogs will also be trained.
The cost of this exercise has been pegged at Rs 50 crore — to be spread over three years — and the annual recurring cost for maintenance is estimated to be around Rs 15 crore.
“With the expansion of the force, we (officers) would be in a position to offer help to people in the remotest corners of the state, where many have lost their faith in police because of our perceived tardiness. The extremists are taking advantage of this and are garnering support from rural Jharkhand,” said another senior police officer.
He added that help from para-military forces, especially the BSF, would be sought for training the animals. The BSF will also be asked to assist in raising a dog squad in each district. The animals would be trained on the 400-acre Padma Palace grounds in Hazaribagh. This unit will come up next to the police training centre