Thursday, November 19, 2009

When ANF men turned agony aunts

MK Madhusoodan / DNAThursday, November 19, 2009 11:40 IST Email

Bangalore: In view of heightened Maoist activity reported from other states, a three-day intensive operation was conducted in the Western Ghats, in four districts of the state that have in the past seen Maoist activity--Udupi, Chickmagalur, Shimoga and Dakshina Kannada.

The Anti-Naxal Force (ANF) that conducted the combing operation comprised over 1000 police personnel. The effort was led by Additional Director-General of Police (Law and Order) AR Infant and Inspector General of Police (Western Range) Gopal B Hosur.

This time, however, the policemen engaged in a different manner of anti-Maoist activity. Instead of the regular combing operation, the policemen set about attempting to understand the situation on the ground, listening to the people and earning their trust.

"The three-day long operation, November 10-14, was intended to familiarise the ANF with the terrain, which is both vast and complex. But when our forces began work, they met several people with little contact with the outside world. There were no schools, no health facilities, and even electricity had not reached many of the settlements," said Infant.

Though the intention was to get the police personnel familiar with the terrain, the focus somehow shifted along the way. "We changed our strategy and sat down with the local population to discuss their problems," Infant said, asserting that it was high time that police personnel and senior bureaucrats do some introspection. Infant commended the forces for the humane touch they had lent to thecombing operations.

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