Heavily armed Maoists ambushed a convoy of Congress leaders in Chhattisgarh’s Bastar district on Saturday 25th May, killing 27 people including State Congress Chief Nand Kumar Patel, senior leader Mahendra Karma and ex-MLA Uday Mudliyar besides leaving 36 others injured including former Union Minister VC Shukla. LINK
Power flows from the gun – this is the belief of the Naxals (Maoists) who are ‘apparently’ fighting for the rural poor in India – lower castes, advasis(tribals) etc. They have established a network across 170 districts in 15 States. The Naxals have been known to attack police stations, destroy government infrastructure, kidnap government officials, extortion, torture and murder. There are areas in these States that are so dangerous that State governments have advised extreme caution for those politicians or government officials travelling through them; they are often accompanied by heavily armed paramilitary forces.
The Naxals have set up bases across many States and from there have greatly increased their influence. There are ‘liberated zones’ where no one dares enter without adequate armed back-up by State forces. This is a Class struggle that targets ‘upper castes, zamindars (feudal landlords), commercial interests and of course the security forces.
These Maoist guerrillas are called the Red Taliban for the laws they enforce in the ‘liberated’ zones. They pose a serious threat to the very fabric of the democratic process.
There are claims from some sources that these Naxals are being given ‘support’ in man, weapons and finance from the ‘leftovers’ of the LTTE (who blame India for their defeat by Sri Lankan forces), Philippines communists, erstwhile militant groups in India and across the border in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Burma.
So why have the Naxals been able to gain ground over the years?
Some determining factors:
– Corruption : at all levels : Primary Health Centres which in most cases are non-existent, local governance,
– Caste System: This plays an important part in the rural set up. Upper castes are known to dispense their own justice when it comes to the tribals etc. enforced slavery, rape, beatings and more only alienate them (tribals) for they cannot turn to the government system for justice as this too in many cases is ‘ruled’ by the upper castes’ and further are corrupt. In some areas the tirbals are treated like savages with no civil or human rights.
– Politics: The wishy washy attempt to resist the ‘red embrace’ by countering with largesse – hand outs to tribals that are either ill conceived or merely ‘band-aid’. The inherent problems are not tackled nor is there a concerted effort to do away with wretched ancient caste system.
– Commerce/industry: The tribals fight a losing battle against the conglomerates who ‘legally’ get access to their land for setting up one industry or another. This is theft. No one seeks the tribals approval nor do they get any compensation whatsoever. One must admit that there are feeble attempts to bring them (tribals) into the social mainstream of the country.
So how does the Indian Government tackle this situation?
– Police stations in the affected areas have been ‘reinforced’ with watch towers etc.
– Paramilitary forces often ‘encounter’ the naxals who use tribal women and children and shields…a bloody collateral damage.
– The Indian Air Force has deployed its latest Mi-17-5 helicopters in Nagpur to cover Chhatisgarh (who the massacre took place on Saturday 25th May) and Madhya Pradesh. The (SOP) Standard Operating Procedure laid by the Defence Ministry – Fire in self defence only. Doesn’t this defeat the purpose?
– The red menace has encouraged the growth of non-state anti-naxal groups e.g. Salwa Judum in the State of Chattisgarh. Interestingly the government has supported such ‘extra-judicial groups’ which has resulted in tribals being caught between the devil and the deep blue sea. These groups unwittingly have also committed serious human rights violations like summary executions (like the Naxals). This has generated ‘criticism’ from the honourable Supreme Court of India and the Central government.
A shining example –
May 25, 2013 – According to reports, about 250 suspected Naxals, blasted a heavy Improvised Explosive Device (IED) to stop a convoy of about 25 cars carrying Congress leaders in the state and then fired upon them. Although the security men travelling with the Congress convoy fired back, they soon exhausted their ammunition and were cornered in Chhattisgarh’s Bastar district, killing 27 people including State Congress Chief Nand Kumar Patel, senior leader Mahendra Karma and ex-MLA Uday Mudliyar besides leaving 36 others injured including former Union Minister VC Shukla.
The personal security officer of senior Congress leader Vidya Charan Shukla who had run out of ammunition and was crushed under a car, shouted out to VC Shukla,
”Sir, I have not been able to protect you. I take your leave.” He then shot himself. And so did the driver of the vehicle for fear of being caught alive by the Naxals who administer special treatment to captured security personnel.
The security forces are still looking for an abducted policeman.
So how should India fight the Red Taliban?
Ask any social activist or NGO and this will be their answer.
– The tribals need to be treated like humans and not animals. Thereby utmost care and attention must be given to their roti, kapada and makaan (food, clothes and shelter – a euphemism that also includes healthcare and social acceptability).
– The existing laws in the country include jail time for those using derogatory words/actions against a person of a lower caste: this should be enforced and seen to be enforced.
– Tribal lands must not be unilaterally acquired and the tribals must be informed and their interests protected by the State and given precedence over commercial interests.
– The civil and human rights of the tribals and other lower castes must be protected and those abusing it even though they may include government or security forces must be punished.
– Human slavery/bondage must end. Whole families, veen children as young a 2 years are human slaves. The Internaitonal Justice Mission, among other NGOs operating in india have been instrumental is saving/rescuing hundreds of families from slavery. This must end.
– Support for the subsistence farmers/families whose crops have failed due to drought etc. It is claimed that more than 250,000 Indian farmers have committed suicide over the years due to failure of crops etc. Their families are left in penury and are then easy targets for slave owners/Red Taliban.
– Corruption is endemic in India – it has not left anything untouched. Monies and other welfare schemes for tribals are often ‘looted’ by vested interests. This should stop and those found dipping their hands into funds allocated for the tribals must be prosecuted.
The danger that the Moaist pose to Indian democracy is best reflected in these chilling words uttered by a Chinese official– “We can break India anytime we want”