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Police Yet to Chalk Out Strategy against Maoists

RANCHI: More than 48 hours after Union home minister P. Chidambaram convened a meeting in Kolkata on how to deal with the Maoists in the four states of Jharkhand, Bihar, West Bengal and Orissa, the state police are yet to hold a meeting to thrash out strategies on the proposed Operation Green Hunt.

A serving SP admitted that police have stopped arresting top Maoist leaders despite intelligence inputs on their whereabouts. "Though we do not have written orders, the political bosses appear to be in their favour, thus making the forces reluctant to go all out against the Reds," he said.

The overall scenario on the proposed Green hunt is paradoxical. On the one hand, police are claiming that the offensive is exclusively its prerogative in which the administration has little role to play. Again, on the other, officials of the same department prefer to use the word "campaign" instead of "operation" to restore civil administration in areas where the Reds have been running a parallel administration.

Naturally, apprehensions are being voiced about consequences in a situation where the government is reluctant to go all out in the operation. "When pushed back from the neighbouring states, chances are that the Maoists will seek refuge in Jharkhand," said an official.

Senior police officers and bureaucrats also criticized the ambiguous stand of the state government vis-a-vis Green Hunt saying that Jharkhand will become another Nepal if the government ignores the problem for long. Maoists will turn the situation in their favour and even enter the political system later.

Given the government's Maoist appeasement policy as chief minister Shibu Soren's recent responses have proved, Jharkhand will become a breeding ground for the rebels, who will become a militia completely out of government's control, sources said.

"In the next five years, they will emerge much more powerful in terms of manpower and arms and also utilize this period to strengthen their cadre," said an officer.

"Not only this, but Maoists, who are extracting levy of around Rs 300 crore (according to police estimate) annually, will be in a position to generate even Rs 1,000 crore per annum," said a source.

A senior IPS officer conceded that despite good police preparedness, the department is shaky. "The soft stand of the government will have an adverse impact on the morale of the security forces," he said. Rather many felt that though law and order is a state subject, the Centre should concentrate more in Jharkhand for the execution of the operation.

On the other hand, civil rights activists felt "bad" politics was involved in the entire process. "Why is Congress launching Green Hunt in states where it is not in power," argued Shashi Bhushan Pathak, state general secretary of People's Union for Civil Liberties. "With security forces flushing out Maoists, there is bound to be some civilian causalities," he said, adding that no serious effort for dialogue has been made.

"BJP and JMM have come to majority by winning votes from these villagers. And now, the Congress-led Union government is all prepared to destabilize the strongholds of these parties by targeting and killing those villagers," Pathak claimed.

(Times of India, 11th February 2010)