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|May 20, 2002||
The Rediff Interview/K P S Gill
Two months after communal riots broke out on Gujarat, the Union government appointed the former director general of Punjab police, K P S Gill, as security advisor to Chief Minister Narendra Modi to check violence in the state.
Well known for crushing militancy in Punjab during the Khalistan separatist movement, the now retired IPS officer has earlier successfully tackled communal incidents as chief of the Assam police.
In an interview to Senior Editor Sheela Bhatt in Ahmedabad, Gill speaks about his new assignment.
What is your perception of the situation in Gujarat?
At the time of Partition, when the riots started, I was in Lahore and was about 12 years old. One knows what it is to be a minority in a riot situation. After Godhra [massacre], the next day a very large number of people turned out on the streets and indulged in violence.
What happened in Gulmurg society and Naroda Patia is inexcusable because it was a failure at the local level.
I haven't visited Godhra. I can't say whether it was pre-planned or not. I haven't spoken to the concerned officers. I am concentrating on re-establishing peace. Chief Minister Narendra Modi has asked the committees to investigate rape cases, and offered help to reconstruct religious places. He has also said that new first information reports will be registered. He has made many important announcements.
Today, I feel the shock about Godhra is over. There is a realization that there should be peace in the state. That is a factor that constantly helps the police. The desire has come into the minds of people, and converting that desire into actuality is not a difficult task.
Your critics say you are a policeman while the situation requires a socio-political solution.
[Loudly] Which our politicians and sociologists have provided? I ask you this counter question. Is it so? Call the politicians and leaders of the society to handle the situation here.
In a meeting, a prominent Muslim leader said, "I don't trust the prime minister, I don't trust the home minister. I don't trust the chief minister. And you, you are sent by these people I don't trust you." I said, "To have a sense of distrust is alright. But to remove this distrust is my duty."
Don't you think there was erosion of state authority on February 28 when the will of the state to govern was absent?
I wonder whether the erosion took place on February 28 or much earlier. Because I have seen tambu tent pickets in communally sensitive areas -- which are there at few places -- since the last 20 years. I asked, 'Where was the state authority when the police had to live in tambus all these years? What is the state authority?'
It's the power of the state that is the police. If you can't put up one police station there to handle communal situations or proper accommodation for the unit, then where is the state authority? What are you talking about? The state authority did not exist here. Okay these riots happened but how do you ensure that such a thing never happens again?
Is the situation in Gujarat fit for the elections?
Yes. The state can face an election. Because if you look at the state today, the disturbed areas are very limited. At the most we could exclude those constituencies. They are a maximum of two or three. You have 182 constituencies and if two or three are disturbed that is manageable. The process of an election reasserts democracy. It's a corrective process. It helps change political equations.
In any case we have to have elections early next year. It will make a difference of two or three months here or there.
Do you think Gujarat is a target of Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence?
For quite some time the ISI never used Indian Muslims. Till recently. Most of the Muslims, I would say 99 per cent have rejected the ISI. Only 1 per cent falls into their trap. Look at the maturity of this country today. If Gujarat had happened in 1992, the whole of UP, Bihar and Rajasthan would have gone up in flames. This time it has not happened.
This is the salute to the people of India. If they can rise, I too thought that let me too rise and serve in Gujarat. Aur agar reputation lose honi hai to hogi [if I that embellishes my reputation, so be it]... at least I tried. I wanted to understand the situation here. The police says they could not find the appropriate response anywhere, not even with the higher-ups, so that was, one would say, a failure.
Design: Dominic Xavier
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