Cop who killed Veerappan to lead Centre's naxal hunt

Aloke Tikku

India, June 12 -- Determined to get back at the Maoists, the Centre has decided to recall the Jharkhand governor's adviser K Vijay Kumar to the home ministry to give anti-Maoist operations by central police forces a hard push.

A retired IPS officer, Kumar - who led the operation to kill forest brigand Veerappan in 2004 - is being designated as the senior adviser in the home ministry to oversee the centrally-coordinated anti-Maoist operations.

The decision follows the last month's Chhattisgarh attack that killed 27 people, most of them Congress leaders.

The decision to recall Kumar to Delhi was taken at the highest level in the Congress and the UPA after the first comprehensive analysis of the three-year-old anti-Maoist operations.

The analysis indicated "a leadership vacuum" in the central forces deployed to fight the Maoists, a top government source told HT, hoping that the former Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) chief's presence at the home ministry would bridge the leadership deficit.

The move, however, is also seen as a knee-jerk reaction of the government that wants to be seen doing the right things.

Incidentally, P Chidambaram had sensed the impending leadership crisis when he was at the home ministry and pushed for an extension to Kumar as the CRPF chief.

The government, however, rejected this proposal in September, appointed Kumar as the home ministry adviser in December and in January, sent him packing to Jharkhand as an adviser to the governor. Less than six months later, the government wants him back in the home ministry.

Executive director of the Delhi-based Institute for Conflict Management, Ajai Sahni, has his doubts if Kumar can make a world of a difference.

Sahni wondered if chiefs of the central forces would take orders from Kumar.

"Once an officer has retired, the structure does not usually pay much heed to them," Sahni said. In any case, there is a need for a stronger evaluation of Kumar's stint as CRPF D-G, he said, pointing that one should not fall for "a lot of myth-making that happens".

Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.