The State must stand as a solid tower of confidence to provide a guarantee of safety to its citizens and instill fear in the hearts of offenders. But where is that State, asks Tarun Vijay
Thirteen states, 171 districts declared 'Maoist/Naxal affected', more than 10,000 killings of citizens, security personnel and Naxal activists. Is India serious about tackling the most heinous and gravest threat to its people?
Seventy-six security personnel were killed in July 2009, including a deputy superintendent of police. But what happened next? The same statements soggy with artificial tears, resolves and empty assurances were churned out. Aren't we turning into a nation of body bag carriers and distributors of ‘compensation money’ to the relatives of the dead?
Like water supply, irrigation and railways, the Naxal/Maoist problem also has a permanent cell in the home ministry, with periodic reviews and increase in budget to raise more battalions; more schools to train soldiers; and more statistics published in the glossy ministry reports trying to prove by bending over backward that the situation is gradually coming under control.
Like the ministry’s job of handling the Naxal problem, which it shyly calls Left Extremism, the counting of dead bodies too has become a regular, routine rigour. Everything is in its place. Destiny plays its role for a Hindu -- kya karein, Bhagwan ko aisa hi manzoor tha… (what can we do? It was God's will); the nationalists, too busy in their favourite fratricidal wars within, get into a Todarmal-Birbal mould and begin writing new books, holding better and bigger seminars to ‘get to the root cause of the problem; and the Naxals happily keep aligning with the ISI, HM, LeT, and executing exciting tour packages for Oxbridge-accented, deeply disturbed flames of the new intellectual world to their jungle hideouts.
They are often accompanied by the dreamy-eyed ‘investigative writers’ with an eye on the Booker Awards and international foundation fellowships on subjects like ‘Chronicling the contemporary dynamics of the struggle for the democratic rights of the subjugated, exploited and the marginalised peasants and the victims of State terrorism in the hinterlands of India's wild and ungoverned aboriginal plains’.
In fact, Naxal/Maoist ‘revolutionary actions’ are good business for everyone. Writers get their new books; journalists get their ‘wonderfully "first of its kind" stories’; politicians get enhanced grants and a perfect setting for the blame game to topple the government in power and establish their lordship over the ruling seats; officers receive a better, fatter and more unmonitored share of ‘development funds’ as the area is declared dangerous and hence the obvious policy of "keep your eyes shut" gets in vogue; and the arms-dealers from across the border keep counting their dollars while they supply better, more sophisticated firearms and lethal weapons to the armed guerillas.
Who is at a loss, finally?
No one but the tribal.
They are eight per cent of India’s population and have 98 pc of the total insurgency and terrorism India is facing. From the north-eastern states to Jagdalpur, Palamu, Ranchi, east Godavari, Telangana area, North Bengal, Eastern UP, hill tracts of Uttarakhand, it’s the tribal population that is facing the brunt of Naxal/Maoist upsurge.
When the Maoists begin their new operation to emancipate them from the ‘clutches of exploiting classes’, tribal are killed, raped and abducted.
When the security forces launch a manhunt to nab the ‘enemies of democracy and the Constitution’, tribals are caught, interrogated, tortured, and often get killed in the crossfire.
The Maoist Taliban in Chhattisgarh has turned more than 400 children destitute, because either their parents refused to send their little kids to become Maoist guerillas or they had no ransom money to pay.
Who wrote about them?
The horrific figures, attached with this article, given by the home minister in Parliament, tell us about the vast magnitude of the problem, which is sourced in the ideology of communism. Like Stalin, Lenin, Mao and Pol Pot, these followers of communist thought have brought havoc upon Indian democracy and people.
Yet they get support in Delhi from the rich, influential and half-hearted Indian class that ensured that one of their top ideologues gets a Planning Commission advisory post from the same United Progressive Alliance government that is shedding tears for one of the finest and honest crusaders Mahendra Karma’s tragic death.
In fact, many influential media houses are run by those who have sympathy for these murderers and tormenters of everything our Constitution stands for.
To say that the Maoists are for the poor, they attack only the influential rich classes and help the exploited classes is a comic strip story. The Maoist are known to be helping the rich who pay them regular hefty protection money, they have never stalled the work of any mining magnate, they openly campaign and provide support for politicians they like and who give them funds, their areas of influence never had any good harvest, nor are the women safe and the girl child ensured a school and healthy growth.
Indian politicians could have shown a convergence of purpose and gone to Chhattisgarh with a united group of various political parties to send out the message that we stand together to fight this scourge. There could have been a time-bound plan, an integrated operation to end this menace once and for all.
After all, the State must stand as a solid tower of confidence to provide a guarantee of safety to its citizens and instill fear in the hearts of offenders.
But where is that State? The disunited colours of our sorrow give more confidence to the law-breakers than to the security forces and citizens.
Tarun Vijay is a member of the Rajya Sabha; member, Parliamentary Consultative Committee on the Ministry of External Affairs; member, Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Ministry of Human Resource Development; member, Parliamentary Group on India China Friendship; honorary director, Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee Research Foundation