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The Rediff Special / A Ganesh Nadar in Warangal
April 22, 2004
Not one of Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu's election speeches goes by without reference to the fight against Naxalites.
While Naidu's words evoke applause, it is the police that carries out the actual work of combating the Naxalite menace.
Parakal is one such place, in the Warangal district of Telangana region, where the police is engaged in a war of attrition with the Maoist rebels.
Inspector Narasimhaiya of the Parkal Circle is a slightly relieved man after the Lok Sabha election concluded in Warangal without any major violence.
But he can't relax too much, for he knows the Naxalites neither wait for elections nor leaders. They can attack anytime, anywhere.
"In every village there are 50 to 100 Naxalite supporters. But only a few are militants," he reveals. "Some provide shelter, some act as couriers, others as informants; many give them food."
The police have been trying over the years to break this network. One of the steps that has proved successful is the formation of Grama Raksha Dalams (Village Defence Committees).
The dalams, says Narasimhaiya, have neutralised support groups of the Naxalites. "We have undertaken a lot of welfare work to support the villagers. They appreciate our efforts and cooperate with us now. Earlier they used to support the Naxalites. We are confident that the villagers can control the Naxalites," he says.
Just five years ago the odds were stacked against the police, with the villagers supporting the Naxalites, many under duress, contends Narasimhaiya.
"The villagers realised the atrocities of the Naxalites and their wrong path. Many Naxalites have also understood that winning against the police is an impossible task. This convinced them to cooperate with the police and rejoin the mainstream," says the inspector.
"Today the Naxals are cut off from the villages forcing them to change their strategy. The pressure is on them. They move around only in the deep forest making it difficult to contact sympathisers," he says.
The police have also formed Maithri Sangams all across Warangal to explain their new approach to the people. The approach has been so successful that those who support the Naxalites face a social boycott from fellow villagers, claims Narasimhaiya.
"We built a house for a farmer whose children were Naxalites. We gave medical aid to the parents of a Naxalite," says Narashimhaiya, showcasing the police's new approach. "We also formed a cultural group called Sanjivani, which performs street plays that shows the misfortune that falls on people who join or support the Naxalites."
"Village welfare schemes and medical camps are conducted regularly," adds Narasimhaiya.
"The villagers don't get scared of us," he claims.
Image: Rahil Shaikh