How communicating through the local dialect has helped the senior IPS officer fight the Maoists in Bastar
If more than 8,000 square kilometres area of Bastar in Chhatisgargh, one of the worst Maoist-hit regions in the country, has now been relatively freed from the clutches of CPI Maoists in recent years, then a major share of credit should go to Inspector General of Police P Sundarraj.
The senior IPS officer has proved that in fighting the Maoist terrorists, arms are as important as the support of the tribals in the region. And this can be done if the hearts of the poor tribals can be won over by talking to them in their own language and convincing them of the fruits of development.
Sunderraj has achieved this by adopting a three-pronged strategy of ‘Vishwas-Vikas-Suraksha’. He has executed welfare campaigns and development initiatives by adding a flavour of tribal dialect to them.
Realising that owing to the language barrier, the first-hand contacts between the police and the locals were often limited, Sundarraj picked the local dialect, mostly ‘Gondi’, largely spoken by the tribal communities of Bastar.
“Communication and dialogue can create a much better impact if the local dialect is used as the medium of communication. The police is determined to give importance to the tribal languages,” he told the press the other day.
The idea is to reach out to maximum villages across the seven strife-torn districts of Bastar. ‘Amcho Bastar-Amcho Police’ is one such motivational drive in Halbi dialect, meaning ‘Our Bastar, Our Police’. Through it, the police personnel are sensitised about the needs of the locals. Police officers dine with villagers, give them a patient hearing on various issues and distribute books and sports kits to students.
Last December, the police launched ‘Manva Nava Naar’ (our new progressive village) to provide basic amenities such as primary school, health and anganwadi centre, ration shops, power, road connectivity, banking facilities and mobile connectivity to the villages where security camps are located.
The police auditorium, named ‘Mava Alsana’ (a Gondi word meaning ‘let us meet and deliberate’), has emerged as a centre to build relationships between the locals and security forces. ‘Bastar Tha Matta’ in Gondi refers to the ‘Voice of Bastar’.
Various interaction sessions are held with the tribal elder-men and community and social leaders, who wield considerable sway among the tribals. The police associate with them during various festivals, particularly Bastar Dussehra, when a feast is organised to honour tribal leaders.
The emphasis is on confidence-building measures. Each of these initiatives can build trust only when led by example. The issues are discussed with a forward-looking approach and an open mind.
According to Sundarraj, more than 24 security camps have been established in the region to implement and monitor the development works initiated by the local administrations.
“In last few years due to the multi-pronged development and security strategy of the government, the security forces and local administration have made remarkable inroads into the erstwhile stronghold areas of Left Wing Extremists in Dandakaranya area,” he says while explaining how the road networks and bridges being constructed with the help of these security camps in Minapa, Tarrem, Galgam, Dharmawaram, Bodli, Kademeta, Koleng, Sonpur, Kohkametta, Kamdeta, Katgaon, Fundri and Potali. As a result, doors have opened up for the local tribal population to the outside world.
“CPI Maoist General Secretary Basavaraju and his gang very well knew that once the tribal youth from the Dandakaranya gets connected to the outside world, the hollow and false propaganda being carried out by Naxals against the institutions and establishments of the legitimate democratic governments would get exposed,” the IG said.
Sundarraj further said that the fear of being exposed and getting extinct is stimulating the Maoist leadership to unleash cruelty and terror against the local population in order to confine them to the dark world, which they were trying to manage for the last four decades. But now the locals are realising their true nature. They want to connect to the outside world. They are distancing away from the Maoists.
He is more than confident now that coming two years will ensure the end of four decade long atrocious and inhumane activities of the Maoist cadres. “Bastar Police, security forces and local administration are committed to establish peace and order in the region and create a better world for the native population,” the Police officer adds.