Saturday, August 08, 2009

'Ultras know the art of war’

;Statesman News Service

BHUBANESWAR, 7 AUG: The top brass of police administration, including a few from outside the state favoured enactment of special laws to combat the Naxal menace, which has grown and was now in a position to carry out "positional warfare" in certain pockets of Malkangiri and Koraput districts.

In certain pockets, they (the Maoists) have total tribal population with them, either by force or otherwise, and have started inducting children and women who are used as human shields, said a police officer at a seminar on Human Rights and Counter Terrorist Operations”.

The seminar organised by Orissa Police in collaboration with the Institute of Social Sciences, New Delhi, had eminent participants in Mr Sankar Sen, IPS, who is a senior fellow, ISS, Mr DM Mitra, the additional DGP Madhya Pradesh and several others from Orissa. Mr Satyajit Mohanty, IPS and director of Biju Patnaik State Police Academy introduced the guest speakers.

Orissa’s excellent track record in terms of human rights was emphasised by DGP Mr Manmohan Praharaj who went on to say that he had lost more than 100 policemen during the last two years.

Speaking his heart out, the DGP said that one has to expect collateral damage while dealing with terror or Naxal situations.

He was strident in pointing out that often an ambience of lawlessness is created by groups and individuals with the support of political parties and Maoists take advantage of such situations. Referring to road blockade, torching of public property and other such group activities, he said that illegality is not acceptable even if it were under a socio-economic objective banner.

Citing the instance of Narayanpatna, the DGP said that “a section of the tribals are evicting people and forcibly cultivating land, if I go and there is firing, tribals will be affected”. The DGP also informed that the Maoists had the covert support of "certain people and groups staying in Bhubaneswar and Cuttack, attending seminars". These people provide the legal and other logistic support whereas the police lack a strong legal backing. Some of the laws are aspirational in nature, they just cannot be implemented at the ground level and more so while dealing with abnormal situations like fighting terror or the Maoists.

Mr Sankar Sen strongly felt that terrorism is destruction of human rights. The ploy of the terrorist groups or Maoists is to see that security forces misuse their powers and this helps them drive a wedge between the forces and the people. Former DGP of Orissa Mr AB Tripathy was even more forceful in saying: "I feel terrorists should have no human rights". He said that one of the " cardinal blunders" was to book and jail policemen in connection with cases during the fight against terrorists in Punjab.

IPS officers of Naxal infested areas ~ Mr YB Khurania, Mr Sanjeev Panda, Mr Praveen Kumar threw up pertinent field based practical posers during their deliberations to hammer home the point at the shortcomings of existing laws in dealing with Maoists, the inadequacy of manpower and the strategies being adopted by Maoists.

Merely raising battalions or special units will not help unless we strengthen manpower in police stations, they said. They also called for special laws. Members of the civil society also participated in the seminar.

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