Friday, October 23, 2009


India’s internal security is a function of how good is intelligence from the street. And this comes from both the Intelligence Bureau (IB) as well as the local police force.

Now IB is politicized beyond repair though P Chidambaram is trying to do something positive. All political parties have used 1/3 of IB personnel to tap into the phones / movements of their political opponents. Instead of securing India, these IB operatives were sent by the then political party in power to secure “compromising proof” on their political opponents to keep them in their place.

That leaves the police stations. If one goes to any police station in the city, he becomes acutely aware of the rot the whole system is in. The Officer in Charge (OC) of a police station often has to bribe his way to a lucrative posting where he can make easy grease money. Such is the scale of corruption that anyone can smuggle in arms from Bangladesh border and dump it anywhere in India – paying grease money along the way – the consignments never checked. We don’t even have basic infrastructure to check goods while in transit through sophisticated machines.

The police stations across India are not connected through a dedicated network (this from a country that is a supposed software giant) – there are no biometric cards accessible to all police stations across India.

Its as if it is not one India, but different states of India makes up different India. And anyone, trust me anyone, can hold up any local police station to ransom. The arms do not work, the pot bellied policemen do not even know how to aim properly and shoot.

The minute percentage of upright police officers are so much in the minority that they are completely marginalized in the system. Hence, unless India throws up several Serpico there is no end to this malaise. And delink political umbrella from policing – it is the only way forward if India is not to implode from within.

In all this the incident that took place in Sankrail should not come as any surprise. To recapitulate:

At least 24 policemen, including constables, inspectors and homeguards, were present at the Sankrail police station when the Maoists struck at 1.30 pm yesterday. Not one shot was fired in retaliation. While a probe is on into what prevented the police force from "engaging" the Maoists, a preliminary investigation has revealed how unprepared the police force is — and the abysmal state of their working and living conditions. Consider the following:

* There were 13 constables, 5 home guards, 3 national volunteer force members and 3 sub-inspectors at the police station when the Maoists struck. Not one policeman was armed. For, the practice here is to keep the weapons locked in trunks.

Even Officer-in-Charge (OC) Atindranath Dutta, who was abducted, was at his home unarmed. The police station had six .303 rifles, three revolvers, one 9-mm pistol and 180 rounds of ammunition — all locked up in the malkhana (storeroom).

* Why? Policemen say one reason is the weapons are no match to those used by the Naxals — so keeping them locked up is "safer." Until the last Lok Sabha elections in May when they got rifles, the constables here had only lathis.

Said 55-year-old constable Gouranga Mondol: "Two months ago, we told the OC that please take away our rifles. These can do nothing compared to the sophisticated semi-automatic arms and ammunition of the Maoists. In fact, that's why carrying such guns was a highly risky proposition. The Naxals would have attacked and looted us. Therefore, we all felt safer with the guns locked away."

* Result: when the Maoists struck, the police station was a sitting duck. The attackers raided the malkhana and took away all the 10 guns and the ammunition.

Moreover, it was lunchtime, the constables were either eating or taking a nap. "As we heard gunshots, we fled into the forest behind the station. Those who could not flee were killed. They took away our police uniform, our cellphones and cash," said Anil Orang, another constable.

* The barracks, adjacent to the police station, is home to 13 constables and a driver. The ceiling in the barracks has chunks falling off. There's no door and it's open from both sides. The windows are broken. For 14 men, there is one toilet and the kitchen is in the open.

* Three years ago, the state PWD acquired 2.5 bighas across from the present police station. A sum of Rs 5 lakh was sanctioned to erect a new police station. The project is abandoned with only two rooms built which are now used by the OC as his residence.

* Ironically, the Jhargram police station, barely 35 km from Sankrail, is considered "prone to Maoist violence" and has bunkers, members of State Armed Police with Insas rifles guarding it 24 hours. But the Sankrail station has no boundary wall and is situated in an open field, with a forest behind it.

The dilapidated building that houses the police station and the adjacent barracks are rented from a local businessmen. The police station has no door, no bunker to thwart an attack.

Asked about the state of preparedness, state DGP Bhupinder Singh said: "The area has no history of violence of left-wing Extremists. The police station was not designated as affected by Maoist violence and, therefore, the security was not so tight. We are doing what ever we can to improve the situation."








Anonymous said...

I think India has started making the right vibes as far as the Maoists are concerned.. I have some hopes pinned on Chida. What I am more worried about are the likes of Raj Thakrey's who, like a cancerous cell, rotting the society from within. Polarising the society on all the wrong grounds and creating the worst ever void in society for their petty policital gains. (And i mean all such morons).

TTV India

The Learned One said...

My bet is that Dalai Lama will not be going to Tawang. That is the price India must have come up with. He will go to Arunachal Pradesh but not to Tawang.

Lets see.

Prasun K Sengupta said...

To Anon@4:46AM: Are you really and 100% sure that India has started making the right vibes as far as the Maoists are concerned? Are you therefore recommending the 'Rambo Model' as the optimum solution to the Maoist problem? You can read more about it at:

Anonymous said...

To a very large extent, China is behind the Maoist violence in India. After all, weapons come from there through Bangladesh and Myanmar. The basic problem is our democracy has given us leaders who just want the gains for themselves. The rot within India is unimaginable. Otherwise if we were strong then China could not have terrorised us the way it does today. Using the doberman pinschers - Pakistan, Bangladesh, Mynamar.. New pinschers are in the making - Sri Lanka and Nepal.

Anonymous said...

Pakistan is and will remain the most powerful of the Chinese Doberman pinschers. Its hate ideology fanned by their religion of hatred - Islam, will ensure that.. Bangladesh, Myanmar etc are just pass through points and the same is exxecuted by local people there for mere pocket change for the chinese. What we need is a strong leader / a strong system and hopefully a resurgent Congress party will provide that.

Anonymous said...

I hope we do not make the mistake of trusting China just because our PM met their premier. Chinese hostility against India goes back decades and it is in built into their policies and psyche. This hostility is much bigger than their premier is willing to address and this meeting means nothing. We must counter China at every step - their nefarious design is to use our neighbours against us. First pakistan, then bangladesh, now nepal... When will we wake up and remain awake instead of going to sleep every now and then.. I hope it will not be too late.

Anonymous said...

When women are not safe in Delhi, how the hell can India protect its own from foriegn aggressions ? Every day there is a rape and murder in Delhi and life goes on as normal. So if China rips the pants out of India or Indians get bashed up in Australia our idiot Prime Minister will do nothing because he is capable of nothing.

Anonymous said...

Startling, shocking and indeed a very pathetic state of affairs! Thanks BuA for bringing it to light. Where does corruption end and real work begin. Or will they continue to be playing hide and seek?




Welcome back.

Actually all this is fairly well known and documented facts - about the pathetic situation of intelligence gathering within in - the apparatus, the operatives, the instruments - are archaic, old and first generation. (OK not all that bad either - but not becoming of a nation of the stature of India either).

Look at the latest attack on Rajdhani train. Imagine for a moment this happened in US. There would be commandos in helicopter gunships coming down heavy on them within 20 - 30 minutes from the nearest base. Here India was held hostage for over 4 hours. Pathetic !

Our response to emergency is a function of compromise, many heads and indecisive leadership.

The only plus point i see is that these incidents are throwing upon the large hole in our internal security responses and preparedness - only if people are willing to chalk out an effective strategy.

Raymond Turney said...


The problem is that you not only need a good strategy, you need tactical competence and enough trained and equipped people to implement the strategy. It is not clear that India has any of these things.

Odd as it sounds, my guess is that the key issue is that the well off people in the cities likely have only a limited idea of how bad things are in the rural areas, particularly for Dalits and Tribals. This means that they are reluctant to either pay the real cost of fighting the Naxalites or to support expensive reforms that might undermine support for the Naxalites.

What mystifies me is why the Naxalites and the hard line China is taking with India do not seem to be seen as connected. After all, if I was a Chinese official dealing with India, I would be tempted by the idea of sticking to a hard line, arming and training the Naxalites with Nepalese Maoist assistance, and seeing if I could negotiate a better deal later with a much weaker India.

But then, maybe I'm missing something.




You are not at all far off the mark.

Point 1. Your contention that city folks are unaware of the situation in villages etc is very true. There are these odd NGO types and left leaning professors in universities who claim to know about the villagers but all they do is go and see the tribals dance and stay with them for a day. In fact, I know for a fact, except remote villages, Coke and Hindustan Lever are better clued on the going on in the these villages due to their strong rural marketing network. And those of us who have ancestral homes in villages are also aware of the situation in that pocket too. But Bengal is very complex.

Left front government - the original communists and now pseudo-communists held together villagers through a reign of terror that brought them to power year after year through systematic rigging of the polling process. The sad thing was that the alternative was even worse !! And villagers paid a price for this.

In classic economic sense - the safety valve mechanism was missing to vent out anger, frustration. Maoists found out a gap that was easy to fill and walk into.

And the pathetic situation of local police stations aided and abetted this phenomena.

As a college going kid, I saw many faces of Kolkata that my parents did not see or was aware of. I was in the most premier institute here. And I had friends on both sides of law. And there is a place called Coolootolla in Kolkata where lower middle class Muslims lived (continue to live) in ghetto in narrow winding lanes - so narrow that one man can perhaps go on one side. In that world while the rest of Kolkata looked at going to malls and discs, lay hopelessness and jobless youths found crime the easiest way to make a lifestyle.

I was friends with a man called Shahjahan, the "big man" - a regal looking man who would wear his 3 piece suit and count the money he would make every week from constructors building illegally in that region. The police too was in the take. The amount of money he was making was astounding. I could have been easily lured into that world - but I was more fascinated at the mechanism. I saw people being hung upside down in abattoirs and being hit mercilessly for past dues or other misdeeds.

When I talked about these to my friends or uncles who were part of the elite social circle they would be a) be completely unaware of such going ons and b) treat this news with disdain worthy of garbage dump and look at me and ask what kind of friends I was keeping.

Looking back, all these shaped me as to who I am. I know and have seen the ghettos from inside out, moved around with people who "owned" these place and know what goes on in their mind.

Sorry Raymond, lost track somewhere - but the limited point is that so called elite city dwellers have no clue about the ghettos in their own city, forget about the affairs of villagers and villages even 100 miles away.

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Chrisypoc said...

My bet is that Dalai Lama will not be going to Tawang. That is the price India must have come up with. He will go to Arunachal Pradesh but not to Tawang. Lets see.

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