Prannoy Roy

Prannoy Roy wrote a post :

Prannoy Roy

The massacre of 76 jawans by Naxals in Chhattisgarh, the worst that the country has seen, has thrown up many questions - Is India at war with the Maoists? Should the Army and Air Force be sent in ? I spoke to Home Secretary G K Pillai and DGP of West Bengal Bhupinder Singh to get a few answers. Hereís the transcript:

Dr Roy: We are very lucky to have a person who is in the thick of the action, who understands what it is with the Maoists, Bhupinder Singh, the DGP of West Bengal.

Sir, thank you very much for joining us from Calcutta in West Bengal. Let me just ask you, are we losing the war against the Maoists?

Mr Singh: Definitely not. I think thatís a wrong perception.

Dr Roy: But we get these constant reports of saw this setback today (April 6),almost 80 jawans being killed. They seem to be under-trained and under-prepared. What would you like

to see done so that this war is once and for all ended.

Mr Singh: See this is going to take some time. This is not something that's going to be over in a jiffy and as in a war you have many battles, some are won, some are lost. But it's the overall war, which we will win.

Dr Roy: Sir, I appreciate that and it is a relief to know that you are not losing the war but give us some examples of why you think you are winning it.

Mr Singh: See ever since the operations have started in our state from June 18th last year, we have had a number of incidents, we have also had a number of quality arrests, we have picked up a number of top leaders. And most important of all, we find that in the beginning the euphoric kind of response these Maoists could induce in the general public, I would say (that) has evaporated to a large extent. Yes, there are some pockets in the affected areas, the Maoists sort of rule the roost (there). But itís more and more due to the presence of the gun that the people are obeying the diktat. And in many places they have revolted because they have found that ever since the Maoists have openly come into their areas...

Dr Roy: I'll just have to interrupt you for a second Sir and just come back to you because we have the Home Secretary GK Pillai on the phone. Sir, thank you for joining us. There is general consensus that the forces are under-prepared, under-trained, too few and we keep saying that the Army and the Air Force are not going to be sent in. Why not send in the Army and the Air Force and finish this once and for all?

GK Pillai:Well itís a political decision to be taken whether the Army is to be used or not. At the moment, this is the considered view of the government that it can be tackled using the paramilitary forces alone, with the help of the state police forces. The forces, as I said, are the state police forces, under-manned and ill-trained for the time being. We are in the process of building up; last year 85,000 policemen were recruited, this year another 150,000 are being recruited.

Dr Roy: Thatís right but the police and the CRPF, with due respect to them, donít have consistent training, weaponry, the equipments that the Army has. And how many more failures will there be? Because every time the government says that this was a failure. How many more jawans will die before we call in the Army?

GK Pillai: I donít think so. You have to basically look at (it) this way - look at the amount of successes we have had. We have arrested the politburo members; we have arrested the central committee members. And even today (April 6) while this incident was happening we have arrested 12 Maoists with weapons, we have arrested a commander in Jharkhand. We continued to hit them for some time. As I said, in 2010 we are going to have some incidents where we are going to have some setbacks but once we get our forces on operation, I am sure there will be far more successes.

Dr Roy: You say itís a political decision whether to send in the Army or not, so it isn't ruled out yet?

GK Pillai: No at the moment they donít feel that it is necessary to use the Army. This is an area, as we said, where we have taken back since the last six months. Between 6,000-10,000 of square kilometers of area, which was under Maoist control, we have taken it back from the Maoists. They have not been able to take back those areas. So there will be some areas where they will try to ambush us when we do, as I said, we become a little careless and..

Dr Roy: Carelessness, to be fair comes out of lack of training and lack of procedures. That is something that the Army doesnít. Thatís something they canít afford to do - they know that. Can I just ask you, are you treating this as a war or just as a skirmish?

GK Pillai: Oh, this is just a skirmish.

Dr Roy: But generally is it war against the Maoists that India is fighting?

GK Pillai: I donít think this is war. Basically, as I said in the evening, Maoists are just a bunch of murderers because it is a deadened ideology. Their ideology of Leninism, Maoism and Stalinism which is there in their 126 page document is something that has already been discarded in the rest of the world. So they have nothing else after the killings. After the killings, next what. They have been extorting the money from the capitalists, as they call them.

Dr Roy: But havenít they to some extent got the hearts and the minds of some people in the local areas.

GK Pillai: In some areas yes, and that (is) exactly the problem. If you have got the hearts and the minds then you should also have something beyond the hearts and the minds and the killing. You have to realize - after killing what? They have nothing after that.

Dr Roy: Okay I am not sure if everyone agrees with you that this is not a war and what the CRPF can do but thank you very much for sharing your views on this very bad day for the Home Ministry and the country. Thanks a lot. Now back to Mr Bhupinder Singh - Sir you heard what the home secretary said. He also believes that this is not the time for the Army to come in. Do you also believe that this is not a war and that this is just a bunch of people who have no aim and are really not a threat?

Mr Singh: No they are motivated but they are without any ideology. What we have seen in West Bengal is that ever since the Maoists have come out in the open all they have done is to ensure that development comes to a halt. Bandhs are called every second day at the drop of a hat, the roads are dug up, the trees are cut, government properties are burnt, the schools and colleges are blockaded so that the children canít go there. So I donít see what they are doing except bringing everything to a halt. This is certainly a very, very negative way to go about it.

Dr Roy: Right Sir, all the best to you. We will keep calling you again and again to know what the progress is. We still continue calling it a war, underestimating it can be fatal.

9 years ago

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