India to use BBC to reach insurgents?

Good old Aunty is more trusted than any other radio station. Well, the government of India has finally conceded that when it comes to credibility, the British Broadcasting Corporation [BBC] news programmes are way ahead of All India Radio.

Now India’s government  views foreign media  with suspicion when it comes to coverage in conflict zones, but in the Naxalite hotbed, the government is relying on BBC radio to win the war against Maoists.

“Cadres are suspicious of All India Radio (AIR) as it’s government owned. BBC radio over the years has done reporting from the Naxalite heartland in Chhattisgarh. For several years, they had a reporter in Bastar. The channel aired views from both sides of the divide. Thus, Maoists trust BBC more. Both in Chhattisgarh and Odisha, Maoist cadres listen to BBC,” said a security establishment officer.

With the recent success in getting Maoists to surrender (671 in 2014), various state governments are planning to advertise their surrender schemes through BBC radio as that’s the Hindi and regional language news service that has a huge following among  villagers in Eastern and northern India, including the ‘Naxalite cadres’.

A newspaper quoted Central security establishment sources saying Odisha (Orissa) had already put the plan in process and may soon advertise its surrender policy for Maoists through BBC radio.

Maoist cadres were completely unaware of any surrender policy run by the government as they operated from remote corners of the country where no communication except short wave radio reached.

Officers engaged in anti-Naxalite operations said surrender and rehabilitation policy announced by various state governments were quite lucrative with packages going up to Rs 40 lakh (as in Andhra Pradesh).

“This, in tandem with  advancement of forces and reach of administration improving in remote areas, tribals are slowly moving away from  the Maoist ideology. However, with no knowledge of surrender policy, they do not know where to look for help. Most arrested cadres during interrogation have told us that they listen to BBC radio. That is why it was thought if the policy is popularized through this medium, it might increase surrenders,” said an officer engaged in anti-Naxalite operations in Odisha.

Until now, state governments have been advertising their surrender policies through local newspapers, posters in Naxalite areas, pamphlets and word of mouth.

Last year, the government saw unprecedented success in surrender of Maoists with 671 cadres laying down their arms as against 282 in 2013. Doubts, however, persist. Some suggest that many of these surrenders may be of those who quit Maoist movement years ago or were mere sympathizers.

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Posted by on April 13, 2015. Filed under Breaking News,India,MEDIA,SOUTH-ASIA. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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