Friday, September 02, 2005

Naxals make merry as top cops fight each other

Saturday September 3 2005 00:00 IST

BANGALORE: The Naxalites in the State, who already have a firm foothold in the Western Ghats, are now having an free run, proof of it being that they are expanding their operations to Uttara Kannada district also.

As per available information, Naxal activities are spreading to places like Sirsi, Siddapur, Banavasi and Yellapura where Naxals have gone into an intensive recruitment drive.

Now, the cadres are targeting VVIPs and intelligence inputs hint at plans of kidnapping some MLAs from this region. However, the Government is still in two minds. Despite hard talk by policemen and politicians, it is still deciding whether to go after them or not.

For one, the much hyped Anti-Naxal Force (ANF) has remained a non-starter. Worse, top police officials are indulging in mudslinging instead of working out a strategy to counter the growing strength of Naxals.

At the moment, ANF has no armoury, no space to train cops for the operation and the vehicles are defunct due to non payment of insurance premium.

Interestingly, the ANF Commander has no financial power, leaving the post in ‘limbo’. The trouble with ANF formation began when the Government appointed DIG Jayaprakash V Nayak as its Commander in May this year. During his first visit to the field, Nayak found out that ANF was in shambles as the personnel from STF formed to nab forest brigand Veerappan were highly ‘demoralised and dissillusioned’.

He shot off a fax message to his superiors and returned for a detailed discussion on the subject. Though a meeting was held on May 22, attended by all senior police officials, important issues like control, structure of ANF, role, power and responsibilities of the Commander and administrative relationship between the SPs of 13 Naxal affected districts were not discussed. Instead, heated debates took place on where the ANF Commander should have his headquarters - Bangalore or Chitradurga.

While Nayak wanted the headquarters to be in Bangalore in order to take up various issues including training, the Home Secretary, ADGP Intelligence and ADGP Law and Order preferred Chitradurga. Even now, there are debates on where ANF SP should function from - Karkala or Udipi.

In July, before proceeding to US on a personal visit, Nayak shot off a letter to the then Chief Secretary K K Misra, explaining the problems he was facing and the growing discontent among the ANF personnel. Nayak also stated that the then DG&IGP and ADGP (Intelligence) expressed their displeasure over his earlier fax message, where he had put the facts in black and white.

Meanwhile, Nayak’s visit raised a controversy in the State, forcing him to cut short his tour. In a DO letter to the DG&IGP, Nayak charged that there was ‘systematic attempt’ by a ‘coterie’ of police officers, particularly Intelligence Chief D V Guruprasad, to destroy him.

He also accused DG&IGP of becoming a part of the ‘coterie’. While war among the top officials is continuing, it seems the Naxals are having the last laugh. For the anti-Naxal drive statements of the Government seems to remain only on paper

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