Such is the distinction earned by the GreyHounds in restraining the Maoist insurgency in Andhra and Telangana that their training centre on the outskirts of Hyderabad has a constant stream of visitors, including security officials and strategic experts from around the world. The expertise and fame that the two states now share came after a spate of Naxalite attacks and numerous casualties suffered in pre-bifurcation Andhra Pradesh’s police ranks.
Realising the need to first learn the enemy’s game in order to beat them at it, the state approved a dedicated commando unit to tackle Naxalism, which was formed in 1989 under IPS officer K.S. Vyas, who was later killed by the extremists.
The commandos are drawn from various branches of the state police and trained in jungle warfare and guerrilla tactics. “Yet, our force is disciplined to not fire first,” says a top police official.
A commando is normally retained for three years in the GreyHounds and paid 60 per cent more than his usual pay. Andhra Pradesh and Telangana have a combined sanctioned strength of around 3,000 commandos.
Much of the GreyHounds’ success is attributed to flawless coordination with the state intelligence units and the district police. During the operation, all three wings are under the command of the local district Superintendent of Police. Currently, the operations are concentrated on the Andhra-Orissa border, where the GreyHounds had suffered a major setback in 2008 when 38 commandos were killed in a Maoist ambush while travelling in a boat in the Balimela reservoir.
By Prasad Nichenametla in hyderabad