Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Top cops list 'fault lines' in anti-Maoist ops

Santosh Singh Posted online: Wednesday, Apr 21, 2010 at 0817 hrs

Patna : * “Policy & command (of anti-Naxal operations) is in the hands of experts, who actually handle the field operations or who actually served in different command positions. Command of policy matters is in the hands of outsiders (home secy) who hardly possess any knowledge on field operations.”

* “Security of police is least priority for government. Insensitive to police casualties and problems... what they allocate to police is leftovers and peanuts.”

* “Naxals are proficient in learning from their mistakes, with each success or failure discussed threadbare and circulated to all military units through Jung and Chingari magazines. But police habitually fall into identical traps and are slow in learning from mistakes....”

These are not random notes but some of the points identified and listed by a large group of Indian Police Service (IPS) officers on why the Maoists have an upper hand over the government as far as the anti-Naxal operations go. These observations are significant as they come at a time when the government is still recovering from the shock of losing 76 security personnel at the hands of the rebels in Dantewada early this month.

The observations were posted on a closed online forum of IPS officers — with 1,548 members so far. The site was started by 1987-batch IPS officer Nandkishore Sarvade on July 24, 2005. Only a serving or retired IPS officer can become a member and write back at IndiaTopCop@yahoogroups.com. Any mail is automatically circulated among all IndiaTopCop members. Interestingly, Chhattisgarh police spokesperson IG K Viz is also a member of IndiaTopCop. So are former Bihar DGP D N Gautam and ADGP Abhyanand. The site has over 150 retired IPS officers as members.

The observations on the problems with the anti-Naxal operations are listed in a mail, “The Police-Naxal Fault Lines”, which was posted on the site last week. The mail, procured by The Indian Express, discusses 12 points on why the Centre finds it difficult to tackle Naxalism.

* The first difference, as put in the mail, between the Maoists and police is that whereas ultras maintain secrecy in all operations, the government’s operation details are known to the media. While Maoists operate quietly, the government relishes coining “catchy slogans like Green Hunt, CoBRA & air raids”.

* Another fault line that has been identified is the Maoists’ expertise in propaganda and the police’s weakness in exploiting Naxal atrocities. Though the Naxals exploit rural women and kill poor people brutally by branding them as informers, police fail to project these before the general public.

* Ego clashes among different government forces and not sharing information freely put forces in a disadvantageous position as against the strict discipline of Maoists.

* Yet another aspect that gives the rebels an upper hand is that they have no respect for the laws of the land whereas the police are bound by rules with “each omission or commission answerable at multiple levels of supervision and scrutiny by judiciary/ legislature/ media”.

* Maoists, says the mail, are “shrewd in enticing/ forcing tribals and innocent villagers into their ‘groove’ to a “point of no return”. Police, however, cannot compel tribals/ villagers to associate themselves with “security agencies”.

* While the Naxals’ policy has “continuity and clarity” in their approach to achieve their goal, anti-Naxal policy differs from “government to government and party to party”. Operational effectiveness differs from officer to officer and also varies from force to force, the mail says.

When contacted, Chhattisgarh Police spokesperson IG R K Viz said: “I am a member of IndiaTopCop but have not read the particular mail in full. Let me go through it in full to react to its content.”

Bihar AGDP Abhyanand said: “It is easy to talk from an online forum. It would be better if such IPS officers take to fields to show the government the right way to deal with ultras.”

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