Gillís next job: Chhattisgarh security advisor

The Chhattisgarh government today sent a strong message to Naxalites by appointing former Punjab top cop KPS Gill as its security advisor. The move comes as a shot in the arm for the Salva Judum movement which has borne the brunt of Naxalite attacks since its success in mobilising tribals.

Gill was approached by the Chhattisgarh government to be its security advisor and sources said that he sent his approval today. Gill will take over on April 16. Backed by Opposition Congress, the government has unleashed a war against Naxalites by organising tribal marches and public meetings. Youths are given arms and trained in warfare at several shelter camps for tribals who had to desert their villages fearing Naxalite backlash.

But the campaign received a setback after 26 tribals were killed in a Naxalite landmine blast near Darbhaguda village in Dantewada on February 28. The government has since directed a ''go-slow'', by curbing public meetings and armed marches. It also said that Judum activity will be restricted to Bijapur and Bhairamgarh areas in South Bastar.

Salva Judum leader Mahendra Karma, who is also the Leader of the Opposition in the state legislature, said last month that Judum will lie low for some time till a new strategy is evolved.

''Gill's appointment is the first step towards the new strategy,'' sources said, adding ''The former Punjab Police chief would advise the government on the security aspect of Salva Judum.'' They also said that the state will soon get a special team of retired security officials from Centre to detect and destroy landmines.

But there are sceptics. A former minister and Congress MLA said Gill won't make a difference in Chhattisgarh as the ''Punjab case was different from Chhattisgarh.''

''Chhattisgarh is just coming to grips with its existence as a state. It is yet to take full control of its resources. The intelligence network is far from satisfactory. What difference would Gill make,'' he asked. ''The government isn't serious. It has appointed 10 Additional SPs in Raipur, but they haven't yet appointed one at Sukma in Dantewada,'' the MLA said, adding, ''about 300 people have died so far in the Naxalite backlash.''

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