A day after he took over as Director General of Police of Chhattisgarh, the state worst-hit by Left-wing-extremism, 1986-batch IPS officer D M Awasthi said that “there would no human rights violations”, that a “bullet can be fired only when it is fired from the other side”, and that journalists and activists doing their jobs should be encouraged.
Awasthi, who has been in-charge of anti-Maoist operations since early 2016, was appointed DGP on Wednesday night, replacing 1985-batch officer A N Upadhyaya.
In an interview to The Indian Express, Awasthi said, “There will be no human rights violations, and that is something I have consistently maintained. A gun can only be fired if it is fired from the other end too. Nobody has the right to take the law into their own hands, and the key to the Maoist problem is credible policing where people have faith in the department.”
Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel had told The Indian Express on Wednesday that there was no problem in talking to journalists or activists working in Maoist-affected regions, and there was no problem if they wanted to help people. During the tenure of the previous BJP government, there were accusations of intimidation of journalists and activists working in Bastar.
Awasthi said that journalists and activists doing their work “sincerely” must be encouraged. “I am very clear that if there is someone that helps the police, it is the media. If they are raising the spotlight on an issue, we should look at it and address it. Similarly, if activists are raising some issues of an area, we must look at that and talk to them. The only problem is if a journalist is doing yellow journalism, or is making money by blackmailing in the garb of journalism, there should be no space for that,” he said.
Awasthi said so far there had been no specific conversations with Baghel on Maoist-related policy. “Those discussions will be done in depth. But the CM has conveyed that strict action should be taken against land and coal mafia in the state,” he said.
He added that his priority as state police chief would be to “decrease the gap” between people and the police force. “Like I said, we must concentrate on credible policing. People should feel the police are there to help them. I want no gap between the public and the department,” he said.
On the question of the SIT announced by the CM on his first day in office on the Jhiram Ghati massacre of 2013 which left 29 dead in a Maoist attack, including senior Congress leaders like Mahendra Karma, Vidya Charan Shukla and Nand Kumar Patel, Awasthi said that things were moving forward quickly and meetings had been set up with legal experts in the next few days.