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KPS Gill reports on Lalgarh for The Telegraph:
As I briefly toured West Midnapore district during the police action in Lalgarh (I was prevented from going into the affected area on “security” grounds), the most dramatic lessons of the crisis, through all its phases — the slow build-up over seven months of state denial, appeasement and progressive error; paralysis in the face of rising Maoist violence; and the final, almost effortless resolution, as the rebels simply melted away in the face of the first evidence of determined use of force — were abundantly clear to me: the complete absence of historical memory in the institutions of the state, and the need for each administration to repeatedly reinvent the wheel.
The West Bengal government is not the first to go through this fruitless cycle; or the first to allow immeasurable harm to be inflicted on its citizens as a result of what is nothing more than the suspension of common sense...
Read the full piece: Truth about Lalgarh 1
Praveen Swami adds in the Hindu:
From the outset, it was clear that the PSBJC had no intention of making peace. Its demands were designed to invite rejection: that West Medinipur’s Superintendent of Police do penance by performing “sit-ups holding his ears;” that all policemen in Lalgarh crawl on all fours from Dalilpur to Chhoto Pelia, rubbing their noses in the dirt; that all those arrested on terrorism-related charges since 1998 be released.
Even then, the State government attempted to stave off a confrontation. On November 27, the day of the deadline set by the PSBJC, the West Bengal police shut down 13 posts and camps in the Lalgarh area. Later, on December 1, two more police posts were abandoned. But West Bengal’s increasingly desperate efforts to make peace failed — and a murderous meltdown followed...
Read the full piece here
Way back then, KPS Gill had said, in a Walk the Talk programme, to Shekhar Gupta, "The only time I’ve slept badly in my life was in Gujarat. Just hearing the descriptions. Never before, never after". Leaving aside what pressure there may have been from politicians, he had wondered about the role of the police:
Look at Ahmedabad. If you look at the Gujarat riots, you’ll find that 90 per cent of the damage was caused by 8 or 9 incidents in all, and they happened within a small time span. What was difficult for everyone to swallow was what happened in Naroda Patia and the Housing society. You can understand complicity and kow-towing to the powers off and on. You can understand that for one hour, even two hours. But when it goes on for the whole day... The police is there but there is no response.
The mobs were coming like Chinese waves.
They were coming in waves and the people who were affected were constantly ringing up and there was no adequate response. All this cannot just be explained by political pressure. At some point of time you have to stand up and say enough is enough.
In this case the police officers?
Entirely the police officers. The law authorises them to shoot, not the political leaders. You can order an inquiry later on, but that’s a different matter. The police officer has to realise he’s not just an officer but also a human being with a conscience.
And now Shiv Visvanathan raises the question again, in the Asian Age...