Malkangiri collector R Vineel Krishna’s abduction has not only triggered fears at the Centre that the episode might slow down development projects elsewhere in the Red Corridor but it has also started a debate over the risks that a collector should take.
The open demonstration of support in Krishna ’s favour by the tribals helped secure his release but it also brought the government down on its knees. “It was an avoidable episode,” a government source said.
Chhattisgarh has advised its collectors to be more prudent in undertaking tours into the interiors and keep their colleagues in the security establishment posted on their movements.
District collectors emphasise that they did realise there was a certain amount of risk that an administrator had to take to deliver on their mandate.
“But the Malkangiri incident indicates that the price for risks has to be paid by the government and the people rather than the individual alone,” a district collector said, explaining why he had already cut down on his visits to the interiors.
“A good administrator would not only have inputs on security risks obtained from the police but also the villagers,” said a senior Chhattisgarh government officer who has done long stints in naxal districts, recalling instances when villagers suggested he defer his visits.
But government officials said it was unrealistic to expect them to move around the district with policemen. “We might as well not tour because with the police around, the villagers are not going to come forward,” one of them said, pointing that a police escort would also raise the risk of coming under Maoist attacks.