Maharashtra: 'Naxals Losing Local Support In Gadchiroli', Says IPS Officer Neelotpal

Maharashtra: 'Naxals Losing Local Support In Gadchiroli', Says IPS Officer Neelotpal

Superintendent of Police Gadchiroli IPS officer Neelotpal in an interview with FPJ spoke about the challenges police had faced to ensure peaceful elections in the naxal-infested district.

Somendra SharmaUpdated: Monday, June 17, 2024, 04:59 AM IST
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Superintendent of Police Gadchiroli IPS officer Neelotpal | X

Mumbai: Superintendent of Police Gadchiroli IPS officer Neelotpal in an interview with FPJ spoke about the challenges police had faced to ensure peaceful elections in the naxal-infested district.

How challenging has it been for you and your force to ensure peaceful elections?

It has been very challenging. If you see the history of Gadchiroli, every time the elections had been very violent. In 2019, there had been 22 violent incidents during the model code of conduct in Gadchiroli, six instances of exchange of fire, six incidents of arson, six cases of IED blast and in that we had lost 15 of our jawans and eight civilians.

Has any special planning been done by the police to ensure naxals do not create any law and order issues during polls?

We had started preparations to ensure peaceful elections more than a year ago. We identified the violent-prone areas and they were mostly the areas in Etapalli and Bhamragarh talukas where the police presence was very less. From January 2023 onwards, we opened armed outposts in four locations which led to the reduction of the security vacuum of more than 1000 square km where naxals used to move with impunity. We requested the police headquarter and the Election Commission on the resources which we required mostly. We had some locations where we used to do aerial dropping of EVMs and police parties. This time we got six MI17 choppers for four days. Out of 948 booths in Gadchiroli, polling officials and EMVs were airdropped at 206 booths.

How has the support of the locals to the police been in combating naxalism?

We invested heavily on community policing, police dadalora khidki and project udaan. It has reached to 6.5 lakh beneficiaries in the last three years. These initiatives have led to winning hearts of people of Gadchiroli. Naxals rely on ground support for their execution of low exposure warfare. Now, the people are not supporting them or not giving information about the location of the police parties. This has also led to zero recruitment from Gadchiroli in the last three years in the naxal fold.

How many naxal attempts have been thwarted by the police in recent times?

August 2020 was the last day in which Gadchiroli police had suffered any casualty. They had laid IEDs on our patrolling routes which we diffused successfully. This year we have busted four camps. We seized three IEDs in three separate instances this year. There have been eight instances of exchange of fire this year in which we have neutralised seven naxals. We have recovered several AK 47s, carbines and rifles. Four naxals were surrendered this year.

5. What do you have to say about the rehabilitation schemes for the naxals?

We have a good and liberal surrender-cum-rehabilitation scheme in Maharashtra. In Maharashtra, piece of land is also given to naxals for building their house and we provide them employment opportunities as well.

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