Today's Paper

Police enlist people's help to check naxalism

CHENNAI DEC. 7. Encouraged by a tip-off from the people about the presence of naxalites in a village near Uthangkarai last month, the Dharmapuri police and the administration adopted a `people-friendly' approach to deal with extremism in the region.

The recent police-naxalite encounter and the support extended by villagers spurred the Revenue and the Police authorities to adopt an integrated approach towards district development, the lack of which provided a "fertile ground" for naxalism.

Continued neglect by successive governments since 1960s and its sharing of border with Andhra Pradesh, which provided a getaway for ultras when chased by the police, contributed to the problem.

With the Government realising that wielding the stick alone, instead of going into why the people supported extremists organisations, would not pay dividends, the police have decided to play a role in the development process.

Besides hunting for the four naxalites, who escaped during the encounter, the police will work in tandem with the district authorities to solve the problems faced by the people.

Efforts will be made to create and foster `Friends of the Police' concept, says a senior police officer, adding that the recent police operation was possible only because of the support and cooperation of the public.

At the same time, a constant vigil will be maintained to nip naxalism in the bud.

Two years ago, as many as 45 villages, which is the largest district in the State, had people supporting naxalites, because of the indifferent attitude of the authorities.

Nearly half-a-dozen organisations operated under various names, but supported naxalites and their ideologies. An equal number of self-styled smaller outfits assisted the main units.

Fertile ground

The district's rough terrain — a mixture of jungle, hills, cultivated land and reserve forests - and its proximity to Andhra Pradesh's Kuppam in Chittoor district, helped naxalites to carry on their nefarious activities.

The district is said to have the largest area under forest, next to the Nilgiris. Following the recent encounter, coordination meetings are being held with police officials of the neighboring State.

A constant vigil is being maintained at the check post at Veppanapalli. One more check post is proposed near Maharaja Kadai, another route to Andhra Pradesh. There are about 12 check posts.

The police are closely coordinating with the Karnataka Police to curtail the inter-State movement of criminals, as Dharmapuri also shares borders with Kolar Gold Fields and Chamarajnagar.

Bangalore connection

It appears that the `Bangalore connection' surfaced following the arrest of Duraisinghavelu during the recent operations. The naxalite movement appears to have attracted people from Madurai, Tiruvannamalai, Chennai, North Arcot and Sivaganga. The police are now looking into this aspect too.

Recommended for you