Mumbai: The Naxal-affected Gadchiroli district would have a `tribal battalion' to tackle the ultras, Maharashtra Home Minister R R Patil said on Friday.

"The recruitment will be done by State Reserve Police Force (SRPF)," he said, adding that locals would get priority.

Patil was speaking in the Legislative Council during a debate on recent Naxal attack in Gadchiroli in which 12 CRPF men were killed. He reiterated government's stand that the controversial National Counter Terrorism Centre was needed.

"If the state government has to part with some of its powers to tackle the menace of terrorism and naxalism, it won't matter. Maharashtra will support the NCTC," he said.

Patil, an NCP minister, also said that state police were coordinating well with the CRPF.

Though the Naxals had some presence in Nanded, Yavatmal, Bhandara and Gondia districts, they could not carry out their activities in these areas much as they were being flushed out, he claimed.

Around five thousand CRPF personnel are deployed in tribal-dominated Gadchiroli.

Very few members of the Council were present during Patil's reply. Education Minister Rajendra Darda was the only minister to be present. None of the senior legislators, including the Opposition Leader Vinod Tawade (BJP), were present.

 The Tuesday's Naxal attack was the biggest in Maharashtra in the last three years, Patil said. In the last five years, there were 519 Naxal attacks in the state, in which 239 persons including policemen lost lives.



Tribal battalion to tackle Naxalites