The home ministry on Friday advised police chiefs of naxal affected states to invoke the anti-terror law against front organisations of the Maoists but asked them to act against them only after collecting adequate evidence against them.
The advice came at a meeting with police chiefs of 27 districts – counted by the centre as the worst affected districts in terms of Maoist violence – to tweak their tactics in dealing with the Maoists.
The nearly 65 field officers from the central and state police forces leading the battle against Maoists also formed five teams that would redefine at a strategic level, how they should fight the menace.
A key suggestion came from one superintendent of police who spoke of his experience in countering Maoists with the three Js (Jawan, Janata and Jungle).
“He argued that if we raise the capacity of the jawan (the constabulary) and bridge the trust deficit with the janata (public), it will make the job of entering the jungles easier (to conduct operations,” an official said.
To complaints of district level officials that they found themselves unable to check the activities of front organisations of the Maoists, the home ministry advised them to keep a close watch on their activities and systematically collect evidence against them rather than take knee-jerk reactions. They should be arrested under the anti-terror law once there is enough evidence to withstand judicial scrutiny, the home ministry advised. The Centre has 18 Maoist front organisations on its radar.
Government sources said the meeting also constituted five teams that would come up with an in-house standard operating procedure on things such as how a police station in a naxal affected should be run and the rules of the game for the central forces.
“There is a big difference between countering a terror attack and fighting an insurgency,” a government official said, pointing that this difference in style was also brought out in presentations of commandants of central forces deployed in the worst affected districts.
“It was felt that central forces – rather than just conducting operations against naxals – also needed to reach out to the tribals living in areas under its charge in a more focused manner,” an official said.