Maloy Krishna Dharstarted life as a junior reporter for Amrita Bazaar Patrika in Calcutta and a part-time lecturer. He joined the Indian Police Service in 1964 and was permanently seconded to the Intelligence Bureau. During his long stint in the Bureau, Dhar saw action in almost all Northeastern States, Sikkim, Punjab and Kashmir. He also handled delicate internal political and several counterintelligence assignments.
After retiring in 1996 as joint director, he took to freelance journalism and writing books.
Titles credited to him are Open Secrets-India`s Intelligence Unveiled, Fulcrum of Evil, ISI, CIA, al-Qaeda Nexus and Mission to Pakistan. Maloy is considered a top security analyst and a social scientist who tries to portray Indian society through his writings.
In this exclusive column for Sify.com, Dhar examines the pros and cons of IndiaÃÂs experiments with empowering people to arm and defend themselves.
Two contradictory news items had hit the headlines of mainstream dailies on May 4, 2008. A delegation of the Communist Party of India consisting A B Bardhan, Gurudas Dasgupta and D Raja had called on the PM on May 3 (The Hindu front page) to urge the leader of the coalition government headed by Congress to disband the Salwa Judum (Peace Mission) initiated by the BJP government of Chattisgarh.
The other item was about decision of the SPF government headed by Congress in Manipur to arm the people of certain areas of Thoubal district (affected by Meitei and Muslim terrorists) to fight back and restore peace to a cluster of villages around Heirok and Chajing.
The names, as I said (earlier) may sound Chinese or Thai. DonÃÂt mind the lack of knowledge about Manipur. The decision was adopted in a Cabinet meeting on May 3, 2008.
It is better to quote for the sake of authenticity the news portal Sangei Express (Manipur-May 3, 2008), which is in no way considered an India-friendly portal:
ÃÂThe SPF GovernmentÃÂs decision to arm public of Heirok and Chajing to defend them-selves from militants have evoked widespread appreciationÃÂ
ÃÂPeople of Heirok and Chajing had been demanding that State Government provide them guns after activists of different armed groups killed four persons some times back. Conceding to the peopleÃÂs demand State authorities lobbied with the Central Government representatives and the latter reportedly approved the proposal for one year on trial basis which will include establishment of 500 posts of Special Police Officers (SPOs) out of which Heirok will have 300 SPOsÃÂ
ÃÂThe arm provision would be closely monitored by the Union Home Ministry and if the outcome is positive the period is likely to be extended in phased manner. Close on the heels of the Cabinet decision to provide arms to the public of Heirok and Chajing, the Director General of Police Y Joykumar made a personal assessment of possible sites for opening up of five posts of the SPO in Heirok area today. The possible sites for the SPO posts include Ulaimang, Laimayum Welcome Gate and Salam Leirak within Heirok Part-II, Ngarouthel in Heirok Pt-III and Heituppokpi of Heirok Pt-I.ÃÂ
The CPI, which is a partner in the government (4 MLAs), did not protest the Cabinet decision to arm the people, who are living under shadows of the Meitei and Muslim terrorists. Yet, the CPI is an honourable party and a partner of Congress in Delhi as well.
My intention is neither to support nor condemn the movement in Chhattisgarh. This is not the first time India has legally and openly experimented with armed volunteer forces, right from the North East to Punjab.
Way back in 1967-68 Manipur Naga and non-Naga Hills were infested with Naga, Mizo and other underground armies, the army and paramilitary forces were thickly mobilised. The idea of recruiting Naga and non-Naga youths, training them in medium and heavy weaponry use and posting them in fortified camps in highly disturbed areas was known as the ÃÂVillage Volunteer Force.ÃÂ
The funds came from Delhi and the Chief Commissioner and later the Lt Governor supervised the administration and some central government agencies used to direct the intelligence and armed operations. Within four years the districts of Ukhrul, Tamenglong and Mao-Maram were largely rid of the Naga Army activities. The 10th battalion Mizo Army commanded by Lalzika Sailo surrendered.
If you have any queries you may contact Rishang Keishing, Rajya Sabha member from Manipur. He is a surviving hero of the VVF movement. The nation should be proud of him, as well as the late K Envy and L Solomon, former ministers in the Manipur government. As for queries on NagalandÃÂs efforts at combating insurgents, the best sources are Hokise Sema and even S C Jamir, the two Naga leaders who helped the people fight the insurgents.
If you are not bored, look back at Mizoram, the grouping of its villages and the creation of Village Defence Forces. The army alone cannot fight the so-called ÃÂPeopleÃÂs War.ÃÂ Instead, it requires ÃÂPeoples Participation.ÃÂ
Image: Salwa Judum leader Mahendra Karma (centre) gestures during an interview in Charma town of Kanker district in Chhattisgarh, January 21, 2008,. As the government struggles to keep the grindingly poor tribal villagers who live a world away from India`s economic boom out of the ranks of the Maoists, some 50,000 people have been driven into state-run relief camps. Copyright AFP. Any unauthorised reproduction is prohibited.