Bhadradri Kothagudem district is one of the eight Telangana districts in the Union Ministry of Home Affairs’ (MHA) list of districts affected by Left Wing Extremism (LWE). The district shares borders with Chhattisgarh which has become a shelter zone for top Maoist leaders of Telangana.
In view of its geographic location, both the police and Maoists lay their focus on the district, with the former making all efforts to eliminate LWE from the district while the latter intends to gain a foothold here.
Kothagudem Superintendent of Police Sunil Dutt spoke to Telangana Today giving an insight into the district police’s efforts to curb Maoist activities in the district.
With the Maoists making all-out efforts to re-enter Telangana, what is the district police’s approach to stopping them?
As per intelligence inputs, the CPI (Maoist) Party leadership in a 2019 resolution decided to come into the State from Chhattisgarh to gain ground here and to resort to subversive activities.
We have a multi-pronged strategy involving security-related measures, reaching out to the tribal communities, especially the youth. With regard to security measures, massive and intensive combing operations have been taken up in the forests on the State borders and in agency villages.
Our well-trained forces are on the ground for nearly 270 days in a year virtually covering every bit of the forests that are usually accessed by Maoists to come into the district. We have put in place a strong information network and we know their movements.
How do you describe the year 2020 has been for the district police in terms of restraining the Maoist activities?
This year has been challenging and we succeeded in making the Maoists run away from the district. We had fully demolished CPI (ML) New Democracy underground cadre network. Six important Naxals have been eliminated and a huge number of Maoists, their militia members and sympathisers surrendered to the police.
I ask top Maoist leaders like Haribhushan, Azad and others to lay down the arms and join mainstream life.
Can you explain how the police are reaching out to the tribals?
Our Station Head Officers (CIs) of police stations in agency areas have constantly been maintaining contact with the villagers addressing their issues, extending support and community policing. For instance, as many as 15,000 solar lanterns have been distributed to the residents in remote villages.
Activities like organising free medical camps and distribution of medicines, conducting sports tournaments and distributing sports kits to tribal youths are going on, on a regular basis. ‘We have won the hearts and minds of the tribals. The tribals are not willing to support Maoists anymore’.
Is the district police making any special efforts to discourage youths from joining hands with Maoists?
Yes, as the State government announced a recruitment drive in the police department, we plan to run coaching classes at the beginning of 2021 for the educated youths to prepare them for the recruitment. In the past also, we organised such classes and the response was good.
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