Andhra Pradesh

Naxalites targeting informers?

If Atram Ballar Sha was gunned down by Maoists at Keriguda in Tiryani mandal on October 30, a Gond tribal brother duo was reportedly roughed up by them at Gopera in the same mandal on November 2, all being accused of supplying ‘information’ to police on their movement. The naxalites also did some plain speaking to the surrendered extremists and former sympathisers on the same issue on November 10 at a meeting at the remote Domdari village in Kadem mandal besides warning other informants of dire consequences through a poster campaign in some of the former strongholds in Khanapur mandal.

It is quite clear that the naxalites are trying to eliminate the danger posed by the police informant system before doing anything towards consolidating their position in Adilabad district.

Whether this campaign would yield the desired effect will be revealed only in due time. In the battle with extremism, the foundation of the informant network was laid sometime at the turn of the last century when Sandeep Shandilya was the Superintendent of Police in Adilabad.

This network was built upon and consolidated by his successor Mahesh M. Bhagwat and Kripanand Tripathi Ujela who took over from him after the 2004 general election. The incumbency of Mr. Bhagwat between May 2001 and June 2014 saw introduction of the concept of People’s Policing as an effective counter to the People’s War, the banner under which the naxalites were operating then. The informant network only grew in strength as the new concept of policing brought about cordiality between police and public relations which eventually is said to have resulted in the death of many top ranking and dreaded Maoists.

The advent of mobile telephony and erection of cell towers in the remote areas prompted the police department to arm their informants with cell phones. As many as 400 mobile handsets and SIM cards were believed to have been distributed by the police department in the middle of the last decade.

The lull in extremist activity since 2005-2006 threw a question mark on the relevance of the informant network which is why the system experienced ‘fluctuations’ so far as its importance was concerned. The network also became rickety and operatives reportedly started giving out false tips to make some money.

The police nevertheless took no time in recognising the importance of an information network to serve as its eyes and ears in far flung areas. The concept of Special Police Officers, though denied by the government, came into being a couple of years back when the Maoists resumed movement in the district.

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Printable version | Jun 22, 2021 8:40:39 PM |

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