Nagaland no to IRB recall - Rio govt to try for alternative postings (INDIA)


Kohima: The Nagaland government today rejected the demand to recall Naga personnel of the India Reserve Battalion (IRB) from Naxalite-infested Chhattisgarh, but did not rule out requesting Delhi to deploy the unit in a "less dangerous area".


(13.02.2006)

Mourners at a funeral service for the nine IRB personnel killed in a landmine blast on the Chhattisgarh-Andhra Pradesh border on Monday put the government in an embarrassing situation yesterday by raising slogans against the deployment of a Naga battalion there.

Chief minister Neiphiu Rio, home minister Thenucho and Lok Sabha member Wangyuh Konyak beat a hasty retreat from the Chumukedima Police Training Centre, where the service was organised, when about 500 women refused to let the police take away the coffins for burial.

"Yesterday, the women were emotionally charged, for which they cannot be blamed," principal secretary (home) Banuo Jamir said.

The senior bureaucrat, however, said the government did not have the option of recalling an IRB battalion because it is raised with central assistance and can be requisitioned for any other state. "At best, we may urge the government of India to put the battalion in a less dangerous area later. But at present, there is no question of recalling them."

Chief minister Neiphiu Rio hoped the Naga people and all IRB personnel from the state would not be disheartened by "cowardly acts" like the Chhattisgarh blast and perform their duties with more determination.

Rio also said the government was aware of the terms and conditions set by Delhi when it decided to raise the 9 IRB Battalion. "Therefore, when the government of India asked for the services of the battalion for internal security in Chhattisgarh, my government knew that the moment of truth had come, and that we had to say yes if we are to show that we can keep our word."

The chief minister is understood to have spoken to Union home minister Shivraj Patil and Chhattisgarh chief minister Raman Singh after the incident.
Since July, the battalion has lost 10 men in combat with Naxalites. Last year, a Naga constable named Bennam Phom was killed in action.

Officials said they had received information from Chhattisgarh that Naga IRB personnel fighting Naxalites on the border with Andhra Pradesh were "in high spirits" and would not return till they accomplished their task.

The Chhattisgarh government announced Rs 5 lakh each in ex gratia to the families of the slain Naga personnel and Nagaland topped it with another Rs 2 lakh each. Rio also promised government jobs to the next of kin of the blast victims.
Jamir said the Rio government was contemplating ways to "lessen the pressure" on the IRB personnel and their families.

Though Nagaland has witnessed insurgency for five decades, only once has a militant ambush claimed more policemen in the state. In 1974, militants killed 12 policemen on election duty in Kohima district.

Von: http://www.telegraphindia.com/1060210/asp/northeast/story_5826599.asp - By NISHIT DHOLABHAI

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