'It is politics of terror'

Published : Jul 06, 2002 00:00 IST

The police, who bore the brunt of the extremist activity in Andhra Pradesh, feel that the People's War Group is using the let-up in their anti-extremist operations to strengthen its base in rural areas where it has lost much of its popularity. Damodar Gautam Sawang, Deputy Inspector-General of Police of the Warangal Range, which consists of the core struggle areas, in an interview to K. Srinivas Reddy, argues that the PWG is using the ploy of talks to its advantage. Excerpts:

Why do you think the PWG is coming out in favour of talks now?

It is a plain strategy. The PWG went in for heavy militarisation with the formation of the People's Guerilla Army (PGA), and this overemphasis on militarisation led to the party being distanced from the people. Now its very existence is at stake. As the people began involving themselves in the process of governance through different programmes, the role of the PWG became redundant. That is why PWG squads are turned away in many villages. They are not even given water.

The PWG has now realised its mistake and, using this strategy, is trying to come close to the people. It wants to give a political identity to itself while shedding the image of being a party that emphasises only military aspects.

What is wrong if the PWG propagates its political ideas?

There is nothing wrong in it. Any political party can profess its ideology, but it cannot go beyond the democratic principles as enshrined in the Constitution. But here is a party that professes its ideology through guns, through bloodshed, through annihilations... all these things have no place in a democratic system.

The PWG uses the gun to stifle any dissent. Is this democratic? It is nothing but the politics of terror. But unfortunately, save very few political leaders it is only the police who are able to raise their voice against the PWG and its means and methodology. Even the revolutionary intelligentsia is scared to express itself against the PWG's policies.

Do you think the PWG is using to its own advantage the let-up in your operations during the talks?

Isn't it very clear? Its plan is to buy time, engage the government; with the police being instructed not to take up anti-extremist operations, it wants to use the opportunity to go to the villages and work out a mass base again. We know that it would stretch this process as long as it suits it. It desperately wants to gain the image of being a political party even while holding the gun.

The PWG accuses the police of trying to scuttle the peace process...

That is because the police are speaking plain truths that point out the incongruity and contradictions in the PWG's arguments. Wielding the gun and talking about the democratic process is a contradiction. The other reason is that the police are sceptical, on the basis of several documents that speak clearly about the intentions of the PWG, its methodology, its strategy, and so on. It cannot rebut any of these. Hence it criticises the police for speaking the truth.

Why should the police make political comments?

There is nothing political in our arguments. We are only presenting facts on the basis of hard evidence, documents and interviews of PWG leaders. The circular issued by the PWG on June 3 lucidly elucidates its game plan. Whenever it is exposed, it criticises the police.

Do you think anything positive will come out of the ongoing process?

We are sceptical because they (PWG cadre) continue to hold guns. The mediators themselves concede that negotiations are only part of a strategy. But if the PWG indicates that it is prepared to lay down arms if whatever it is asking for is met, it would go a long way in reassuring people. But they vehemently deny any move to give up their armed struggle.

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