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Wednesday, 8 May, 2002, 17:49 GMT 18:49 UK
Profile: KPS Gill
KPS Gill
Gill is viewed by many as a national hero
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By Jyotsna Singh
BBC reporter in Delhi
line

The newly appointed security adviser for the western Indian state of Gujarat, Kanwar Pal Singh Gill, faces a daunting task.

Rioters in Ahmedabad
Critics say Gill has no power to stop the violence

Mr Gill is known for his success in rooting out militancy from the Indian state of Punjab, expertise that he will now apply to the communal violence in Gujarat.

The state has been in the grip of Hindu-Muslim violence for more than two months and Mr Gill has been assigned the job of advising the state administration on security.

Critics say that shorn of any real administrative powers, Mr Gill may find himself relying on the aura surrounding his personality to repeat his success.

But to many, he remains a national hero whose strong will and long experience make him the right man for the job.

Tough reputation

KPS Gill began his career as a police officer in the north-eastern state of Assam, quickly earning a reputation as a tough officer.

He became a household name across the country as Punjab police chief in the early 1990s, when he was credited with crushing a separatist revolt in the Sikh-majority state.

KPS Gill
Gill is no stranger to controversy

Widely praised as a one-man army and widely feared by criminals across the country, Mr Gill was dubbed "Super Cop" after his success in Punjab.

Years after retiring from government job, Mr Gill's anti-terrorism skills are back in great demand.

He publishes the Faultlines journal and runs the Institute for Conflict Management, as well as advising governments and institutions on security related issues.

He was asked by the government of Sri Lanka last year for similar advice.

Mr Gill has also written a book, "The Knights of Falsehood", which explores the abuse of religious institutions by the politics of terrorism in Punjab.

Criticism

There has been a dark side to Mr Gill's success and he is no stranger to controversy.

He and his team have been accused of committing excesses in the name of stamping out terrorism.

Gujarat police
Additional forces are needed in Gujarat

Then in the mid-1990s, a senior female civil servant from Punjab, Rupan Deol Bajaj, sued him successfully for sexual harassment.

Mr Gill had to pay a hefty fine and was sentenced to three years in prison which was later reduced to probation.

Despite his conviction Mr Gill's iconic status remains untarnished among both ordinary people and political parties, including the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.

Observers say the BJP-led government is hoping to cash in on Mr Gill's image.

The Central government has been under tremendous pressure to intervene directly in Gujarat following allegations of complicity between rioters and the police and state administration.

Accountability

Critics have dismissed Mr Gill's appointment as a mere symbolism.

They say his role has not been clearly defined and as the state government's adviser he will not have any real authority to execute his own plans.

The main opposition Congress Party has even demanded to know exactly to whom he will be accountable.

Mr Gill himself, however, has dismissed any such doubts and says he has the support of the state government.

He has described the situation in Gujarat as "very bad" and has given himself a month for a full assessment of the situation.

See also:

08 May 02 | South Asia
Gujarat violence flares
07 May 02 | South Asia
Special riot force for Gujarat
25 Apr 02 | South Asia
UK report censures Gujarat rulers
16 Apr 02 | South Asia
Gujarat Muslim women 'rape victims'
15 Mar 02 | South Asia
India's secularism under threat?
28 Feb 02 | South Asia
Analysis: India's religious clashes
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