‘The problem in Chhattisgarh is not Naxalism. It is the administration’

‘The problem in Chhattisgarh is not Naxalism. It is the administration’

Hyena Gill, whose contract as adviser to the Chhattisgarh government on anti-Naxal strategies has not been renewed, spoke to Shivam Vij

What is wrong with the national strategy on Naxalism?

You don’t tackle a problem like this by having meetings. Ever since the pm said so, there has been a succession of very diffused meetings that lack a focus. The other thing is that these states have governments run by different parties and they have different strategies.

So parties should have a consensus?

Even in Punjab the consensus lasted a short while, and then we got Beant Singh as CM who had a focus. In Chhattisgarh, the dg can’t transfer a constable.

Isn’t Naxalism different from the terrorism you tackled in Punjab?

There is no difference. No state learns from the experience of others. Now Chhattisgarh officials have made some visits to Andhra and are trying to learn from them.

Do we need a joint Special Task Force for this?

I do not support stfs. The thana is the basic unit of policing. West Bengal overcame the Naxalites by strengthening the thanas. So it was in Punjab. The police strength of Bastar is abysmal.

Has the Salwa Judum been successful considering the Rani Bodli massacre that killed 65 policemen?

The Salwa Judum has shaken up the Naxalites but now there is a stalemate. The two major massacres by the Naxalites were actually defeats for them. This is a foolish movement where the Naxalites kill tribals, who are their very own support group.

After the Rani Bodli massacre, there were reports in Raipur that the state’s top police brass doesn’t know what exactly has been your contribution.

If I am there and they don’t take my advice whose loss is it? I don’t lose anything. The loss is of the state, of the people.

The home minister said that Naxalite violence has declined in all states but increased in Chhattisgarh.

Depends on how you use figures. In Chhattisgarh, they are in an aggressive mode. We die, they die.

So is it a civil war we are up for?

There is no civil war, it is a creation of journalists. Naxalism is a phantom. Political parties tie up with Naxalites before elections. Look at Nandigram. It’s totally supported by Naxalites. Advani supports it because he wants to score points against the CPM.

You have said that corruption in the police has hurt anti-Naxal efforts.

You don’t find corruption in the police?

Why does Naxalism thrive?

Like the mafia in Bombay, Naxalism in Chhattisgarh is an extortion operation. It runs between the beedi manufacturers, the Naxalites and the government.

Will the Army have to step in?

I don’t agree that the situation is that serious. When I studied the police deaths in Chhattisgarh for a few months only three or four policemen died. The rest were all CRPF or the Naga battalion and the Special Police Officers. So what is the contribution of the Chhattisgarh Police? Policemen don’t want to be posted in Bastar. They bribe and get a transfer. I submitted a proposal: give out-of-turn promotions and provide the leaders. Insurgencies are small commanders’ wars. They are not generals’ wars.

Is the CM an effective leader?

How can I comment on the leadership qualities of a cm. But I told you that the type of administrative support the police is getting is not adequate. I am sorry to say that.

Don’t you think fake encounters are the last thing the government needs to win the trust of tribals?

Bastar tribals are to be won over in 101 different ways. It starts with what tribals think is development and what we think is development. The tribal says leave me alone and stop my exploitation by middlemen. The state makes crores of the tribal produce and is unable to give it back to the tribals. Improve their villages. Give them land rights. The problem in Chhattisgarh is not Naxalism. It is the administration.

You wanted dogs sent for training to the US at the cost of a few crore rupees.

The police dogs were totally incapable of detecting bombs. I sent a proposal to the Chhattisgarh government but they didn’t accept it. The loss is theirs. Similarly I said set up a control room. They’re still doing that.

There were reports that money from the police welfare fund was spent on your helicopter rides and Rs 20 lakh was spent for your house in Jagdalpur.

The helicopters belong to the state. I used it twice — once with the home minister and once with the chief secretary. There was one room of a Mess that they built in Jagdalpur. That took a long time, otherwise I would have gone and stayed there.

Tehelka

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