Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Jehanabad II : The Indian Express EDITORIAL

The Indian Express
Tuesday, December 18, 2007 at 0000

That Dantewara happened despite intelligence warnings points to a total collapse of state policing.

Chhattisgarh has been on high alert. For the last several weeks, following recurrent attacks on security personnel and intelligence warnings that the Maoists were planning a major strike, the state’s security regime was required to be fully primed to respond to sudden strikes. Yet the Dantewara jailbreak happened. If ever evidence was required that Chhattisgarh’s security regime is as good as non-existent where it is most needed, it is here.

The fact cannot be doubted that the state government has — despite an outward demonstration of being a tough state with tough laws — failed miserably on the policing front time and again. It has depended far too much on short cuts and blunt methods and not enough on systematising the delivery of state security. The Salwa Judum model of policing, in tribal districts like Dantewara, has all but collapsed. It amounted to outsourcing security to the untrained and untrainable. Of course, the CM has his problems. In an ‘Ideas Exchange’ with this newspaper two months ago, Raman Singh was more than forthright about the security lacunae he faced. He admitted that 40 per cent of his police stations were in buildings that were over 50 years old, with no boundary walls or fencing. But he claimed that his government was raising and training an entire generation of police personnel. Independent agencies, however, have observed that the police personnel who have been newly employed by the state government are wholly inadequate in dealing with the Maoist threat, some even being found to be underage.

The recent attack also underlined the lack of sync between Central and state anti-Maoist interventions, although threat from radical groups have been identified by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as one of the major challenges facing the country. Even neighbouring states don’t appear to share crucial information. Surely it is of use for Raipur to know how Patna responded to the Jehanabad jailbreak. One of the niggling questions the Patna High Court had put to Bihar’s state home commissioner at that point was why jail reform and upgrade had been stalled. In the wake of the Dantewara jailbreak, that question now needs to be put to the authorities in Raipur.

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