Thursday, 8 April 2010

Do we have a plan to deal with the Maoists?

For a long time we have been hearing that the Maoists are actually poor tribals who are being deprived of their rightful stake in the country's development process and have taken to armed uprising to revolt against the state.

For a long time our honourable politicians have been saying that these Naxals are our countrymen and hence use of the armed forces against them is out of question.

I've also been hearing that Mr. Chidambaram's Operation Greenhunt is actually an excuse to get the insurgents out of the area so that the major mining companies (some of them foreign) can start their mining operations.

We've had people like Ms. Arundhati Roy talk about the Naxals as "Gandhians with guns"

During the recent Lok Sabha elections Ms. Roy also made a statement that "The next time you see a news anchor haranguing a guest, ‘Why don’t Maoists stand for elections?’, do SMS this reply, ‘Because they can’t afford your rates.’ "

Well, who arms these Naxals? Where do they get money for this? If they can get money for the AK-47s and IEDs, can't they stand for elections and pay the advertising rates?

Why do they have to extort innocent and poor villagers, whom they claim to represent?

Why do they have to kill? Now? Why can't they come to the negotiating table, as Mr. Chidambaram has been calling them for quite some time now.

The Indian Express in an editorial nails it thus.

//... after Tuesday’s well-planned Maoist ambush in Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada district that left 76 security personnel dead in the worst single Naxal attack to date, the notes of discord being struck in certain political quarters are counterproductive. These seek to take the argument back to a point long left behind, one to which the Indian state cannot afford to return. Should the operations be scaled down? No. Because that would immediately cede territory recently recovered from Naxals back to them, precluding all chances of ending the insurgency. Should “provocative language” against Maoists be dropped? Here’s a counter-question: whence the idea that those who massacre 76 men after trapping them, those who for years have kidnapped and butchered civilians and policemen, blown up stations, roads, bridges, schools, burnt peasants’ crops, who have reiterated countless times their unwillingness to compromise till the state is destroyed — whence the idea that these people care about the softness or harshness of words?//

I concede these people may have been poorly treated. But taking up arms against a democratically elected government is not the way forward. Found this in a blog post which perfectly echoes my thoughts.

//While glorying Maoists, Ms. Roy says that they have gotten tribals organized and have won victories like getting a better price for kendu leaves. However it should be noted that poor and exploited people in other parts of the country did not need guns and terrorists to get organized. They formed cooperatives like Gujarat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation Ltd (Amul) and changed their futures peacefully. So community organization, as Ms. Roy hints, does not need Maoists. As a matter of fact, Maoists prevent aid and assistance from reaching those that need it (being a kind of mafia themselves) and the perpetuation of the Maoist movement, as strategized by its handlers who are anything but tribals, depends critically on people being angry at the government. Hence lack of real development, as done by the government, serves them well because then they can show themselves to be an alternative.//

Go ahead, click on that link above and read the whole post.

What's the way ahead?

B Raman (Additional Secretary (retired), Cabinet Secretariat, Government of India, New Delhi [ Images ] and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. He is also associated with the Chennai Centre For China Studies) comes up with a plan

Colonel Anil Athale (retd) talks about the military option.

Whatever we do, this is not the time to take a step back. This is a civil war. Some hard decisions have to be taken and all political parties have to be united. It is very gratifying to note that the BJP has promised full support. Other parties like the ones headed by Shibu Soren and his ilk have to come together.