He was the director general of police (special operations) before he retired recently. Umranikar speaks to DNA about fighting Naxals, and the preparedness of our forces.
What are the ground realities in Naxal affected areas in the state?
The battle against the Maoist rebels is an all-out war. Sometimes, the police gain the upper hand and sometimes it is the rebels.
As far as Maharashtra is concerned, the Naxal problem is not big, although the it shares its borders with Naxal-affected states like Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. We have enough forces like the State Reserve Police Force, Central Reserve Police Force and commandos to take on Maoists. The state recently recruited fresh manpower, so there are no problems of numbers.
What are the main challenges for the forces while battling Naxalites?
Naxalites are armed insurgents and hence, we cannot tackle them with normal police forces. While fighting Naxalism we should have a special force which has undergone special training and is well aware of the tactics to be used during anti-Naxal operations.
Many times, the forces don’t have first-hand field experience of battling Naxals. It is not possible to render real experience of fighting Naxals during training. So, we need a special force with experience of jungle warfare and who understandthe tactics of armed militants. Another problem is that we lack proper intelligence for operations. Importance should be given to intelligence gathering during operations. Gathering inputs about the rebels is important while planning operations.
What needs to be done to overcome these challenges?
Police forces assigned to deal with Maoist rebels should undergo special army training. Police jawans should be trained in different strategies to deal with rebels.
Moreover they must be psychologically tough to take on rebels. The state government has taken several initiatives to tackle the problem of Maoist rebels in the state.
The point is that while wiping out Naxalism we should behave like a state, we should have a strong political will, motivation and properly trained forces. If need be, we should resort to aerial surveys and attacks on Naxal bases. Instead of scoring points over each other, the Centre and state governments should work in tandem and have proper coordination.
What are the ground realities of local support to the Naxal movement?
Local tribals support Naxals out of fear. The presence of the government and police should be more visible in Maoist areas. Naxals have given nothing to tribals except death and devastation. No one should equate development with exploitation. They are thrusting their ideology on tribals for their benefit.
What facilities do our forces stationed on the Naxal battleground have?
The state is looking after the forces in the best possible manner. We have primary health services and the state has provided well-built semi-permanent structures with protective walls.