Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel on Monday asked the police department to constitute a Bastar Special Force that will recruit youth from remote Maoist-affected areas of the state, PTI reported. The force will serve as a special unit.

The decision was made at a meeting between Baghel and the police department. State Home Minister Tamradhwaj Sahu, Chief Secretary RP Mandal, Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Subrat Sahoo, Director General of Police DM Awasthi and other officials were present.

“The chief minister has said that youth from village panchayats in sensitive areas of Bastar division should be recruited in the Bastar Special Force,” an official of the state government told PTI. “It will ensure employment, while their presence will give an advantage to the police in terms of knowledge of dialects and terrain.”

The Bastar division, comprising Bastar, Kanker, Kondagaon, Dantewada, Narayanpur, Bijapur and Sukma districts, has become one of the most militarised areas in the country with a heavy presence of Maoist groups.

During the meeting, Baghel also asked officials to expedite the process of releasing tribals lodged in jails for petty offences, based on the recommendations of former Supreme Court judge AK Patnaik-led committee. The Congress government in the state had last year constituted a seven-member committee, headed by Patnaik, to review offences lodged against tribals in Maoist-affected regions.

The idea was to withdraw cases where investigation is pending due to lack of sufficient evidence and where chargesheet has not been filed, according to the Hindustan Times. The committee was also to look at the cases with possibility of plea-bargain.

Officials informed Baghel that so far 625 cases have been presented before the panel. Out of these, the committee recommended the withdrawal of charges in 404 cases, while 206 cases were disposed in court.