Four policemen killed in Maoist attack in Chhattisgarh—DNA, Monday, Jun 27, 2011– . Their names, (courtesy @acorn and @SurendraKatchh): Suresh Kumar, E K Emol & Nagvanshi, Bhushan Mandavi, Laxman Bhagat & Arsan Ekka.
Maoists killing CRPF—A rape and/or murder in UP—have become too routine a news to enrage us or to find a place in trending topics on twitter. In India policies are not framed ex ante. Coherent voice or noise is required for any policy formulation. And it is rather a sad ‘state’ that in search of non-existent coherence our Jawans are paying price in the form of their lives.
Here is what our home minister has to say in a very recent interview to NDTV (when asked about his biggest failure):
My biggest failure, well there may be a bigger one tomorrow, who knows? My biggest disappointment is that we are all still not on the same page as the Naxal, the CPM Maoists. In a large country like India, I expect there will be voices, but ultimately we must recognise the grave challenge of the CPM Maoists. The CPM Maoists aren’t the wrongly believed do-gooders. They are simply not an armed NGO or an armed do-gooder. They want to overthrow the democratic system in this country, they believe in an armed rebellion, an armed revolutionary struggle. They want to destroy the Parliamentary system in this country and seize power and they will kill, maim, destroy, and burn anything to achieve that object. I think as a country we haven’t quite understood the character of the CPM Maoists.
If Chidambaram is really expecting to find people to be on the same page then it is a wild-goose-chase. Let us look at the different kind of people whom he may have to bring on to the “same page”.
Category – I:
This category includes eloquent activists like Arundathi Roy who doesn’t believe in either democracy or in our constitution. They tend to condone criminality and intellectualise the indefensible [to borrow Shankar Aiyar’s phrase]. For them republic day is a tragic day as Arundathi Roy writes in her essay to outlook:
The Indian Constitution, the moral underpinning of Indian democracy, was adopted by Parliament in 1950. It was a tragic day for tribal people. The Constitution ratified colonial policy and made the State custodian of tribal homelands. Overnight, it turned the entire tribal population into squatters on their own land. It denied them their traditional rights to forest produce, it criminalised a whole way of life. In exchange for the right to vote, it snatched away their right to livelihood and dignity.
Can these views ever converge?
Category – II
Let’s assume that people like Arundathi Roy who mock our constitution are a very few in number. There is another category (like this), which believes, if we empower tribal or under privileged, Naxalism would fade away. This idea or ideology is not just incorrect but extremely dangerous. For, it gives some legitimacy that Maoists stand for development and that they represent underprivileged. Do they really stand for development? Let the statistics answer:
Home ministry’s latest statistics on Naxal violence (from January 2007 to June 16 this year ) shows …. Besides 465 roads, the banned CPI (Maoist) targeted 188 railway property including stations, crossings and tracks; equal number of school buildings; 187 telephone exchanges/towers; 69 panchayat bhawans; 45 electricity transmission lines; 30 mines; nine power plants and 60 other ‘economic targets’ like solar plates, cement plants and other manufacturing/industrial production units during the period.
Their attack on school buildings had earlier been interpreted as the ultras’ attempt to destroy all such places which were being occupied by security personnel. But this interpretation went for a toss when officials in the Naxal management division of the home ministry found that only one-fourth of the total 188 school buildings destroyed by Maoists were home to security personnel at any point of time.
The compilation shows that 2011 witnessed attacks on 142 ‘economic targets’ with latest being reported from Bihar on Wednesday when the ultras torched a railway station near Patna and blew up six mobile towers in Gaya….. The years 2009 and 2010 were the worst, not only in terms of losing public property but also in terms of ‘deaths’ in Naxal violence. As many as 1,005 people were killed last year in 2,212 incidents as against 908 in 2,258 incidents in 2009; 721 in 1,591 incidents in 2008 and 696 in 1,565 incidents in 2007. This year has so far seen 226 deaths in 733 incidents.
Destruction of schools, Railways stations, communication towers, Roads, panchayat bhavans—all by those so called ‘custodians of development’. A video link from ANI.
Category – III
Third category, they recognize Maoists as security threat but they also emphasize that Maoists are considered as protectors by some tribals; so along with security there should be development to win the hearts of those tribals and alienate them from real Maoists.—This idea is perfect in diagnosis but impractical in prescription.
You cannot build bridges which are going to be blasted the next day, the contractors of the bridges need to pay a good percentage as extortion, which in turn is used to upgrade their artillery of Maoists and blast more bridges…. Second possibility is even bizarre, assume a district collector monitoring the development work has been kidnapped, they demand release of few Maoist cadres, who will come out and kidnap even more administration officials…the loop continues…
So the idea of development and security should go together is at best a Romantic thought and at worst is made with an assumption that it is ok to sacrifice the lives of some government officials.
Let me quote from @pragmatic_d ‘s blog :
The government continues to labour under the misbegotten idea that throwing money at the problem will lead to a solution. The government continues to live in denial about the fact that it cannot undertake development in the Maoist-affected districts without first ensuring security there. Even then, the problem is not of the availability of funds but of improvement in governance which is the key for capacity-building, without which the allocated money cannot be utilised properly.
[...]Without security there can be no progress — good intentions, good deeds and loads of government money are not sufficient. In fact, without security there is nothing.
Category – IV
Last category— With the presence of security forces and Maoists some of the areas are very much under developed and needs to be empowered but for that empowerment and development to sustain, give preference to security.
I believe in this approach. We need to consider and treat Maoists as a security issue and address that first. We need to defeat those with weapons their imaginations that they can overthrow democracy. These Maoists areas need to be sanitized and then under the presence of tight security there should be development programs and the presence of security should be continued till a well structured and confident local administration emerges. I can recall (though not sure 100%) that this one of the proposal discussed at one of the round tables of Takshashila in which I participated.
Also, every third person in India lives below the poverty line; let us not leave a precedent that their concerns will only heard if they pick up weapons.