Winning over jungle residents: Chhattisgarh police try a new tackFebruary 11th, 2009 - 11:42 am ICT by IANS
That wasn’t all. The Gond tribal, a resident of the thickly forested Pushwara village in the restive Bastar region, was then told that another cop would knock on a co-villager’s door the next morning with some more surprise gifts!
While villagers are wondering what has caused this change of heart among the authorities, police say it’s an exercise to win over forested people in order to break the decade-old intelligence network of Maoist rebels.
Sapan Chaudhary, the policeman who visited Watti, for instance, is station-incharge of Dhamtari and is doing a six-week training along with 587 cops at Maoist-infested Kanker district’s Counter Terrorism and Jungle Warfare College (CTJWC).
The college was specially set up by the insurgency-hit Chhattisgarh government in 2005 to train policemen to “take on guerrillas like a guerrilla”.
“Cops from constable to superintendent of police rank who are getting training at CTJWC for guerrilla warfare are being briefed on how much it is necessary for the police force to break the Maoists’ village intelligence network,” the CTJWC director, Brig B.K. Ponwar, who earlier headed the Indian Army’s Counter Insurgency and Jungle Warfare School at Vairengte, Mizoram, told IANS.
Sujeet Kumar, additional superintendent of police in the insurgency-hit Narayanpur district, said: “CTWJC trainees are visiting the jungles and offering forested people chocolates, sweets, biscuits besides books and copies to their children.
“They are also assisting them in their daily problems such as doing shopping from local weekly market and processing files pending with the government such as those related to pensions and also holding meetings with village heads to list out their problems where police can assist them.”
Kumar who is also getting combat training at CTJWC said: “The whole purpose of the civic action is to penetrate into the Maoists’ intelligence network and dissociate their link with villagers who shy away from giving information about the rebels to police.”
Pawan Deo, a deputy inspector general of police, told IANS: “No matter how many troops the government pumps in to take on Maoist militancy, they (Maoists) can be defeated only if we block their village-level intelligence network.
“Police have to win the faith of jungle residents to track the movement of Maoists.”
But Brig Ponwar, 60, said: “The big problem of pushing up the intelligence agenda in Maoist-dominated hamlets to build a rapport with locals is absolute lack of funds.”
Lack of development has fuelled Maoist insurgency in large parts of Chhattisgarh. Since 2004, 1,250 people have been killed in attacks by the rebels, police say.
(Sujeet Kumar can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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