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Maharashtra police’s idea to counter Naxal propaganda — a comic strip called ‘Gadchiroli Files’

District's top cops want to convey ‘ground reality’ & tell people how Naxals are obstructing development. They ideate & write the comic, and get a local artist to draw it.

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Mumbai: Senior police officers in Gadchiroli, Maharashtra, have decided to sit down every fortnight this year for an assignment of a different kind — brainstorming a story, writing a script and roping in a local artist to draw up caricatures. The final product is a comic strip titled ‘Gadchiroli Files’.

‘Gadchiroli Files’ is an initiative by the district police to counter propaganda by Naxals in the Maharashtra region known for Maoist insurgency. The first such comic strip was published on 2 January.

“We want to convey the ground reality in the Gadchiroli district, tell people how Naxals are obstructing developmental work in the district. We thought a comic strip would be catchy and convey our message more effectively instead of circulating long pages of material among people,” Ankit Goyal, Superintendent of Police, Gadchiroli, told ThePrint.

Goyal and a team of three additional SPs work on the comic strip from start to end, thinking of themes to highlight as well as turning them into a script.

“While the main focus will be to show people how Naxals obstruct development of the district, in time, we will also focus on highlighting major issues of the district, creating awareness on public issues, talking about various welfare schemes of the government and the police and so on. We also don’t know yet what form it will take in the future,” said Goyal, a 2010-batch IPS officer who took charge as Gadchiroli SP in 2020.

Also read: NIA arrests businessman from Kolkata for providing funds to Maoists

Multilingual comic strip

The inaugural comic strip went live on 2 January this year as ‘Gadchiroli Files #001’, published by the Gadchiroli Police on its social media handles in three languages — English, Marathi and the local tribal language of Gondi.

‘Gadchiroli Files #001’ was a three-panelled strip with the first panel showing a supposed Naxalite with a gun strapped to his chest telling a boy outside a Zilla Parishad school to come and join the Naxal movement with him. 

In the second panel, the boy tells the visibly irate militant that he will not join the movement and he wants to go to school and become an engineer instead.

Next, the Zilla Parishad school that was standing in the background is ablaze, with large tufts of smoke rising from it, and the school board knocked down. The Naxalite laughs and says, “Lal Salam”.

The second strip is to be published sometime this week, Goyal told ThePrint.

“We have got a strong response from the people so far. We plan to keep publishing the Marathi and English versions on social media because that’s more powerful than any other medium right now,” Goyal said. 

“For the Gondi version, since we are specifically targeting the tribal population, we will print some of these strips and distribute them like pamphlets in remote villages where there is little connectivity or access to the Internet,” he added.

(Edited by Amit Upadhyaya)

Also read: Chhattisgarh: Four naxals killed in two encounters; Greyhounds jawan injured


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