At a time when Naxalites have undertaken a massive poster campaign to paint Jharkhand red, the state police headquarters is witnessing a ‘showdown’ between two of its seniormost officers in the rank of Director General of Police (DGP), over the ‘fruitfulness’ of its own initiative to counter a similar campaign of the ultras in 2005-06.
Jharkhand Director General of Police JB Mahapatra told HT his department wasn’t keen on countering the Maoists’ poster campaign "since the wall posters of the police printed last year remained stacked in police stations and had no impact".
"It isn’t imperative for us to counter the Maoists’ posters with our own ones. It could aggravate the fears of the people. As far as I know, last year the posters were sent either to the SPs or police stations in bundles, which remained unutilised. A similar suggestion was mooted even this year too. We did not take it up as it would have been nothing but a misuse of funds," Mahapatra said.
Instead, we have decided to go in for ‘perception management’, Mahapatra said, adding it was part of the nine-pronged anti-Naxalite strategy formulated by the police.
"Since the police are not adept at carrying out propaganda campaigns, it could be outsourced. Public relations firms could be roped in. Police play the role of a painkiller by preventing incidents and fighting the ultras. But it needs a political-administrative backing too," the DGP a 1972-batch IPS officer, pointed out.
Mahapatra’s assertion, however, hasn’t gone down well with his predecessor VD Ram. The police headquarters had launched its own anti-Naxalite poster campaign outlining the misdeeds of the ultras and cautioning the people to be aware of them during Ram’s tenure as the State police chief between July 2005-October 2006.
"The DGP should have known the facts before shooting his mouth. The allegations of misuse of funds on posters are highly objectionable. I suggest Mahapatra to go through the feedback of the SPs on the issue available with the Special Branch. While the Ministry of Home Affairs had commended our initiative, the Maoists were compelled to counter ours through a new six-page booklet," Ram, now Chairman of the Jharkhand Police Building Corporation said.
"Everything is on record. I am ready for any inquiry on the issue," the 1973-batch IPS officer Ram asserted.
The police establishment had printed around 10,000 posters, for being pasted and airdropped in extremist-affected areas. An amount of about Rs 5 lakh was spent on it.
Maoists have recently pasted posters in Kathikund, Gopikandar and Ramgarh police station areas of Dumka district, asking villagers to desist from providing information to police regarding their activities.
Police also recovered a poster, supposedly put up by Maoists, at Lupungdih village under Nimdih PS area of Seraikela-Kharsawan district, in which Chief Minister Madhu Koda was warned against supporting industrial houses. Red posters are coming up more frequently in Ghatshila, Ghorabanda, Dumaria areas too.