In the wake of the recent Maoist attack on a CRPF contingent that claimed the lives of 25 troopers, the SSB, a specialised force meant to guard key areas of the border with China but which now has seven units deployed in the Left Wing Extremism (LWE)-affected Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Bihar, has asked its personnel to undergo regular "counter-attack training" and "avoid unnecessary movement".
Archana Ramasundaram, Director General of the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB), issued the instructions on May 5, just 11 days after the deadly Maoist attack on the 74 Battalion of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) in Chhattisgarh's Sukma district.
The four-point instructions to the seven units (over 8,000 troopers)—two each in Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh, and three in Bihar—included regular counter-attack training for personnel, avoiding unnecessary movement of vehicles carrying its troopers, intelligence-gathering and civic action programmes.
"Security precautions as per prescribed SOP (standard operating procedure) be adhered to while making movement in Maoist areas. The troopers should be imparted regular training on field tactics such as attacks and counter-attacks. All kinds of unnecessary movement should be stopped and administrative movement should be regulated," Ramasundaram's instructions state.
"Intelligence network be geared up, sources be cultivated and coordination with all sister agencies be maintained for obtaining or sharing of valuable intelligence inputs.
"Troops should be imparted regular training on field tactics such as attacks, counter-attacks, Cordon and Search Operation, raid, Search and Destroy Operation, and Road Opening Party so that they are able to professionally respond in case of any eventuality," the instructions say.
These further say that civic action programmes should be organised as per the requirement and need of the local population so that they actually benefit.
A day after the instructions were issued, sources said, the SSB halted the unnecessary movement of its vehicles used to ferrying rations from markets.
"The movement of vehicles for the medical examination of troopers has also been minimised. The troopers have also been told to take leave in groups so that they get security during their travel," the source added.
An SSB commandant, requesting anonymity, said that the force was lucky not to face any big leftist rebel attack like the April 24 Sukma massacre in which a 99-member CRPF contingent, providing security cover to road construction workers, was attacked by over 300 heavily armed Maoists between Burkapal and Chintagufa villages.
"The basic motive of our chief's security review instructions are to save the lives of our personnel and make them more vigilant," the officer said.
In one of the biggest Maoist attacks on the SSB, the officer said, three troopers were killed when a powerful Improvised Explosive Device (IED) exploded on National Highway 16 in Chhattisgarh's troubled Dantewada district in October 2011.
A total of 3,136 people—including civilians, security personnel and police informers—were killed in 7,781 incidents of Maoist-related violence between January 2011 and April 15, 2017, in the 10 states, including Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtraa and Uttar Pradesh, where the ultras are active.