CHHATTISGARH: With years of experience in a virtual war zone and having closely observed the lives of local tribal population, IG (Bastar zone) Sundarraj P knows how to reach out to these communities. For achieving the goal of the three-pronged strategy of 'Vishwas-Vikas-Suraksha', the IPS officer has executed welfare campaigns and development initiatives by adding a flavour of tribal dialect to them.
He believed that owing to the language barrier, the first-hand contacts between the police and the locals were often limited. Sundarraj picked the local dialect, mostly 'Gondi', largely spoken by the tribal communities of Bastar.
All that he has wanted is removing the trust deficit among the tribals who have been facing the brunt of outlawed CPI (Maoist). "Communication and dialogue can create a much better impact if the local dialect is used as the medium of communication. The police is determined to give importance to the tribal languages," he said.
Sundarraj has been in conflict-ridden Bastar zone for over five years and has attempted to reach out to maximum villages across the seven strife-torn districts.
'Amcho Bastar-Amcho Police' is one such motivational drive in Halbi dialect, meaning 'Our Bastar, Our Police'. Through it, the police personnel are sensitised about the needs of the locals. Police officers dine with villagers, give them a patient hearing on various issues and distribute books and sports kits to students.
Last December, the police launched 'Manva Nava Naar' (our new progressive village) to provide basic amenities such as primary school, health and anganwadi centre, ration shops, power, road connectivity, banking facilities and mobile connectivity to the villages where security camps are located.
The police auditorium, named 'Mava Alsana' (a Gondi word meaning 'let us meet and deliberate'), has emerged as a centre to build relationships between the locals and security forces. 'Bastar Tha Matta' in Gondi refers to the 'Voice of Bastar'.
Various interaction sessions are held with the tribal elder-men and community and social leaders, who wield considerable sway among the tribals. The police associate with them during various festivals, particularly Bastar Dussehra, when a feast is organised to honour tribal leaders.
"The emphasis is on confidence-building measures. Each of these initiatives can build trust only when led by example. The issues are discussed with a forward-looking approach and an open mind," says Addl SP (Bastar) Ankita Sharma.
Tribal leaders Balram Majhi from Lohandiguda (Jagdalpur) and Arjun Karma from Faraspal (Dantewada) say that throughout the year, various campaigns are taken up by the Bastar police. "I keep telling my men that the people should remain at the centre of our efforts so that we can effectively combat the Maoist ideology," said Brigadier BK Ponwar, jungle warfare expert.