The tragic loss of 22 policemen in a Naxalite ambush in the jungles of Chhattisgarh on 4 April invoked memories of earlier such incidents with the worst being the loss of 76 lives in Dantewada in 2010. As part of an old pattern, political and institutional homilies followed promises of revenge. One can be fairly certain that the matter will be officially investigated, and a politically patronised cover-up carried out, with only the lower-level officials facing the brunt. Life will continue as before, till another incident comes along, and the cycle will be repeated ad nauseam. The police leadership will continue to promise solutions to politicians as long as their numbers are increased, and going by the recent raising of CRPF battalions, financial constraints do not seem to come in the way of pumping up numbers. If only somebody educated India’s politicians that the qualitative inadequacies in the CRPF cannot be made good by numbers.
The bigger picture and the truth is that for a long period of time, nearly 4,000 square kilometres of territory in south Bastar was in control of the Naxals. In a recent interview, the IG Police, Bastar, said that it has now been shrunk, but an area of 1,000 square kilometres is still with the Naxals. The executive is fully aware of it. Parliament and the media have chosen to remain silent.
Running in parallel is l’affaire Param Bir Singh, the former DGP of Maharashtra, who after being sacked went to court complaining against former state home minister Anil Deshmukh. From what is publicly known so far, the role of the toxic underbelly, which is an admixture of corruption, criminality and political chicanery involving the nexus of political executive-bureaucracy, seems all too evident. As details keep emerging, it seems that the political-police nexus was all-pervasive. It stinks.
No doubt, both these incidents have completely different contexts. One is about the avoidable loss of lives in a situation of armed uprising in the tribal belt of central India. The other is about corruption and possible murder by the law keepers themselves under the tutelage of their superiors. Both these incidents may seem unconnected, but even a casual look reveals that the dramatis personae remain unchanged, except they appear in different forms and contexts. Both incidents relate to politicisation and control by the executive of the police, and in both, the executive and the police lack accountability.