Millennium Post

How not to tackle Maoist menace

As the nation still reels under the aftermath of the Bastar bloodbath, in which the Maoists massacred 24 people, including the Congress top brass in the state of Chhattisgarh, the otherwise lackadaisical Centre, which is perennially caught napping as crises strike India, one after the other, has woken up to ‘rework anti-Maoist strategy.’ Apparently, the Centre, under the shoddy aegis of UPA-II government, is holding closed-door meetings to beat out effective plans to combat the ‘Maoist menace’, having now branded their activities as amounting to ‘terrorism.’ By now, it has been established that the violence was orchestrated by the Maoists in Chhattisgarh that specifically targeted Mahindra Karma, senior state Congress leader and the founder of the notorious anti-Naxal militia group ‘Salwa Judum’, deemed illegal in 2011 by the Supreme Court of India, along with leaders who offered overt support for the disbanded faction. If the latest attack is anything to go by, the Centre would be seriously mistaken and end up paying a still heavier price if it plans on sending more CRPF jawans or paramilitary forces, or even the superspeciality and National Security Guards (NSGs) and other ‘elite commandos’ of Indian security forces into the forests of Dantewada in order to put down the Maoists. However, unlike the diplomatic patience and cool deliberation that the Indian leadership displayed in the case of the Ladakh standoff with China, the UPA-II government is clearly baulking under pressure from all sides, and ‘hardening its stance’, as it were, in order to save its face and escape the rising tsunami of discontent not only from the people, but now, even amongst its own party cadres.

With former peaceniks like Jairam Ramesh branding the Maoists as terrorists with whom no further talk is possible, and the MoS home RPN Singh declaring that ‘the period of talk is over’, the government is looking poised to push the country deeper into the muck, that in a way has been its own doing. Countless accounts of the atrocities committed by the Salwa Judum on the tribals and adivasis of Chhattisgarh testify that arming more and more people to take down Maoists is a false path, as demonstrated by Mahindra Karma’s bloody end. In numerous reports, the tribals of the Naxalism-infested regions of not just Chhattisgarh, but also Odisha, Assam, Jharkhand, West Bengal, have pleaded that they have been squeezed in a battle of egos and territorial domination between the Maoists and the state, or state-sponsored ‘civilian vigilante groups’ like the Salwa Judum. It is they who have been the greatest casualty of this ‘internal security threat’, but the governments at the state and Central levels have instead responded by not redressing their grievances, but by forcibly acquiring their ancestral lands, heedlessly giving away mineral-rich forest lands to multinational corporates for conducting their ecologically unsustainable mining operations, and thoroughly disenfranchising the locals. Unless the basics are set right, unless holistic development reaches the remotest peoples in these states, no amount of strategising in Delhi will make an iota of difference to the ‘Maoist menace.’
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