1st batch of CRPF’s CoBRA commandos deployed in J&K’s Kupwara
This is the first time that the Commando Battalions for Resolute Action (CoBRA), created in 2009 to fight Maoist insurgents, have been moved out of central and eastern India and sent to J&K
“Some companies of CoBRA were partly removed from Bihar and Jharkhand because of the decline in cases of Naxal violence there. Six months ago, their training started in the jungles of J&K,” an official said, declining to be named. “The training is over and they have been posted in Kupwara but are yet to be used in any operation so far.”
The men were brought to J&K in April. In Kashmir, the CRPF is involved in counter-insurgency and maintaining law and order. It works with J&K police and the Indian Army.
The move to start deploying CoBRA commandos, also called jungle warriors, is part of the government’s plan to use the specialised force in areas where the government repeals the Armed Forces Special Power Act, officials said.
“CoBRA was set up at a time when India’s internal security was threatened by Naxal violence. Over the years, CoBRA teams have neutralised top Naxals. Their operations have led to decline in Naxal violence. They are experts when it comes to dealing with militants in jungle and hills terrain,” the official said. “The topography is similar in the northeast and J&K. They will be put to use in such places in the coming years.”
In October 2009, after Naxals were involved in a spate of attacks, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had termed Maoists as India’s greatest internal security threat. Months before that, in September 2008, the union cabinet had approved the creation of a separate force with creation of 10 additional battalions in the CRPF.
CoBRA is trained to cover a maximum of 72 km distance in a jungle and return to base on the same day after completing their mission. They are trained in helicopter- borne insertion in jungles. Before induction, CoBRA personnel are trained at a special boot camp in jungle warfare and tactics at Belagavi in Karnataka.
The geographical spread of left-wing extremism violence has been constricted and districts reporting such violence have reduced significantly from 96 in 2010 to 45 in 2022, official data show. The deaths of security personnel and civilians have declined from a high of 1,005 in 2010 to 98 in 2022. Most incidents of attacks by Maoists were reported in 2009. There were 2,258 incidents in that year, in which 908 people died. Last year, the number of incidents declined to 413, the lowest since 2004.
The personnel from CRPF chosen to join the CoBRA undergo rigorous commando and jungle warfare training before being posted in the jungles of Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand.
“As CRPF has succeeded in making inroads in deep jungle areas, which were once Naxal hotbeds, and cases are decreasing, additional CoBRA companies will be brought to places in the northeast too, ”a second official said.