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‘If the state can’t ensure security for 80 km of road in Bastar, I’m sorry…you”ve failed in the basics’

Former Punjab DGP KPS Gill speaks about his stint as security adviser to the Chhattisgarh government, the recent Naxal attack in Bastar and why “if you maintain law and order, development will follow”. This session was moderated by Ritu Sarin, Editor, Express Investigative Team

Ritu Sarin: Could you start by giving us a post-mortem report on the Naxal attack on the Congress convoy and the Centre’s knee-jerk reaction over the years?

This fight, or whatever you want to call it, against Naxalism has been going on for many years now. The resources and the funds allocated by the government from time to time don’t measure up as far as success is concerned. Of course, in such a conflict, you cannot talk of success and failure. The important thing is to ensure that the levels of violence go down. In this incident, there has been a lot of talk. The Chhattisgarh chief minister said that there needs to be a synchronised inter-state programme on Naxalism because it is a problem that concerns seven to eight states. But I think that was uncalled for in this incident. What was the nature of the incident? Congress leaders were to address a function and then they were to leave. As police officers, we are taught that dispersal is as important as people coming to the function. But here it appears that on the dispersal, not much was planned. It is a problem of having to move about 30 vehicles over 80 kilometres. Now, you can move it in different ways. What is required is simple common sense and police tactics: do you want to move 30 vehicles all at once? You can send them two at a time or five at a time. If the state cannot ensure security for 80 km of road, I’m sorry all these bold statements are over-used. You have failed in the basics. In Punjab, we had declared certain roads as permanent patrol roads. So if somebody asked for an escort, we would say that you don’t need an escort here, we are sure that this road is safe. We ensured that those roads were protected. That is the type of thinking needed to tackle these problems. In this case, it wasn’t there. Why was it not there, I can’t say. It could be because of the tremendous politicisation of the police and not realising that in an insurgency, the protection of moderate leadership is very important.

… contd.

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