CRPF personnel [Representational Image]IANS

 A new Bastariya Battalion will be formed comprising only tribal men and women in Bastar district of Chhattisgargh to combat the Naxal activities in the area.

Centre had approved the raising of this special battalion of the Central Reserve Police Forces (CRPF) in July 2016, after Union home minister Rajnath Singh gave the nod for the proposal. The weight and height cut-offs were also relaxed to accommodate the tribal men and women in the 744 vacancies that needed to be filled.

The battalion was called "Bastariya" after the district Bastar, which is reportedly the hotbed of maoist activities in Chhattisgarh. During the time of its approval, home ministry had told ET, "...The situation has also improved in Chhattisgarh. The battalion being raised will be stationed for 5 years in Chhattisgarh and will be called "Bastariya battalion" (named after the Bastar district)."

Government officials felt that an all-tribal battalion would help improve local intelligence, which in turn would help security agencies plan operations effectively, while also providing employment opportunities among the tribal community.

However, the locals of Bastar were warned by the maoist group Red brigade against joining CRPF or state police forces.  Regardless, Bastariya Battalion is now a reality, and according to DIG of CRPF Dantewada range, D P Upadhyay, the candidates are "fit and with great stamina, they're also disciplined." The tribal candidates who cannot afford much have also been given access to clothing and books to ensure equality in the battalion, said DIG Upadhyay.