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'Bastar Cho Awaaz': Police Deploy Counter-propaganda Psyops in New Offensive against Maoists

A poster shows the Bastar Police's propaganda war against the Maoists.

A poster shows the Bastar Police's propaganda war against the Maoists.

Called 'Bastar Tha Maata' and 'Bastar Cho Awaaz' (meaning 'Voice of Bastar') in local Gondi and Halbi dialects, officers say the idea behind the campaign is to show the real face of Maoist leaders to local residents.

The Bastar Police have opened a new front against the Maoists through posters, short films and audio clips in local dialects spoken by tribals as part of "a high-intensity campaign against the anti-tribal and anti-developmental activities of the Naxals". Police officers running the new campaign say it is part of their ongoing propaganda war against the extremists.

Called 'Bastar Tha Maata' and 'Bastar Cho Awaaz' (meaning 'Voice of Bastar') in local Gondi and Halbi dialects, officers say the idea behind the campaign is to show the real face of Maoist leaders to local residents.

Inspector General of Police (Bastar Range) Sundarraj Pattilingam said in addition to the ongoing offensive operations against the red guerrillas, "a strong need was felt to expose the real and ugly face of the Maoists. For the same purpose, Bastar Police has launched launched a counter propaganda psyops against the misdeeds of Maoists".

He added that the psyops would be fought through a series of posters, short films, audio clips and other popular propaganda methodologies.

Sunderraj said over the past two decades, the local police force, with the help of central paramilitary forces like CRPF, BSF, ITBP and SSB, has made inroads into the erstwhile strongholds of Maoists.

"The induction of well-trained and highly-motivated special anti-Naxal task forces like DRG, STF and CoBRA has given the much-required operational edge to the security forces. And now as part of a three-pronged strategy, namely 'Vishwas, Vikas and Suraksha', which has yielded positive results in Bastar, the propaganda war has been launched against the Maoists," he added.

Meanwhile, a decision to set up a specialised police unit called the 'Bastar Special Force', in which only local young men of the region will be recruited, has also been taken to counter the influence of Maoists. These decisions were part of a review meeting chaired by Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel on Monday.

According to the proposal of setting up the specialised force, youths from remote villages of Maoist-affected Bastar division will be recruited, which is believed to help not just create employment opportunities for them but help forces effectively counter Maoists since in the jungles of Bastar, the difficult geographical conditions and local dialects pose a huge challenge for the police deployment.

first published:September 15, 2020, 18:54 IST