New Delhi: Imposing curfew, slapping collective fine and taking to task Sarpanch and elders in villages found to be giving food and shelter to Naxals are some of the measures suggested by Mumbai commissioner of police Satyapal Singh to cripple the Naxal menace.
Calling Naxals ‘snakes’ for declaring a war against the state, he said, “They (Naxals) need to be searched, driven out or neutralised" by putting “collective responsibility" on villagers as even “passive neutrality" of locals is advantageous to the Maoists and an obstacle for security agencies.
In the latest issue of the Indian Police Journal (IPJ), a compendium of thoughts and comments of senior police and intelligence community officers brought out by the Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPRD), the 1980-batch Maharashtra cadre police officer was critical about the state of affairs in dealing with Naxal violence, termed as the biggest threat to the internal security of the country.
He wrote that as far as anti-Maoist strategy in the country is concerned, the coordination among government agencies exists “mainly on paper". He said it was time to admit that the locals are not with the administration despite building roads, bridges and other infrastructure and it has led to little improvement in their quality of life.
The commissioner, in the topic Fire in forest: Tackling Maoist menace, said the Maoist movement needs to be restricted “both physically and psychologically from the general population".
“To further this, extremist and public movements should be regulated through the institution of collective responsibility meaning thereby that hosting the extremists by one in the village, attending the meeting of extremists, providing them food, etc., blocking the roads by felling trees should hold the entire village responsible. A collective fine for all village residents or curfew for two days may be thought of. Alternatively, the village Sarpanch, police patil and other village-elders should be punished."
He said every member of a village, above 12 years of age, must be registered with the district administration and be issued an identity card.
“For all regulatory measures, government should consider the enactment of an appropriate law," Singh wrote in his 20-page piece.
The BPRD, a department for development on policing subjects under the ministry of home affairs, brings out the publication every three months.
The IPS officer stated that while the notions of a ‘red corridor’ swamping large tracts of the country are “exaggerated", Naxals have enlarged their base and areas of militancy.
“Not a day passes without any Naxal incident in the country. The problem is quite serious. What we see on the surface is the tip of the iceberg," he said. Singh, who had dealt with the Naxal issue in his earlier stints, said, “The security forces are fighting a dynamic unconventional war against a very intelligent enemy in jungles, hills and sparsely populated terrains-mostly inhabited by tribal and other marginalised sections of society."
The police officer said he would reply with a “big no" if someone asks that if pumping in huge amounts of funds has resulted in lessening of the Naxal problem or the locals becoming friends of the administration?
“The message is simple and straight. The locals are not with the administration and we should admit it. Even their passive neutrality is advantageous to the Maoist militants and an obstacle for security agencies. Building up roads, bridges and the electrification of villages, where our 70-80% of budget is being spent, has shown little improvement in the quality of life of the locals. We, in administration, perceive roads, bridges, electrification and telephone as symbols of development but the tribal and locals feel otherwise," he wrote.
Singh, writing at length about the Naxal ideology of snatching power by the barrel of the gun, said this is an unconventional problem which cannot be solved through “usual bureaucratic approach and means".
“We have to demolish the pillars of strength of the Maoist movement. Many may not agree, but it requires the same strategy that is being employed by the extremists themselves, with only one difference that we have to put the gears of their strategy in reverse order," he wrote.