The brutal attack of Naxals in Chhattisgarh’s Bastar district, which has virtually eliminated the state Congress leadership, has once again stirred up Indian democratic establishment, constitutional set up and law and order arrangement. This daring attack of the Naxals vividly shows their growing strength and sinister intentions. Our ministers and mandarins should fret that one-third part of the country is under the grip of Red Terror and their activities are spiraling up day by day. The Naxalites hold sway mainly in the tribal-dominated forest areas and they have started rebellion against the Indian establishment. In the Jagdalpur attack, the Naxalites targeted Mahendra Karma, who was founder of Salwa Judum—a local militia waging war against them. Along with Karma, the State Congress Committee President, Nand Kumar Patel, and his son were also killed. In the aftermath of this barbaric attack, the way the Congress and the BJP have started passing the buck clearly reflects that there was a deep-rooted conspiracy behind this bloodbath.
Naxalism is a not a new problem. In 1967, when this agitation, based on the militant communist ideology, started in Naxalbari village of West Bengal, no one could have imagined that this would one day become the biggest threat to the internal security of the country. Naxalism has now spread its tentacles in Jharkhand, Bihar, Orissa, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal and Maharashtra. The Naxalites want to wrest power through violent means. Majority of the Naxalites are forest-dwelling tribals. In the beginning, this Naxalite agitation was restricted only to the rights of the tribals over forest wealth, but it gradually acquired the shape of an anti-national movement. Today, not only are the Naxalites in control of the forest and mineral wealth of the country, but are also involved in criminal activities. The Naxalites have amassed arms and ammunition, which include the weapons looted from the armed forces as well as the weapons that have been acquired clandestinely from other countries. Not only are the Naxalites getting support from foreign powers, there is also a section of intellectuals in the country which is standing in support of their activities. It is because of these intellectuals that the Central government and state governments have been showing a lackadaisical approach in dealing with the Naxalites. Though Red Terror’s hold in the states like West Bengal, Bihar, Andhra and Madhya Pradesh is on the wane, while in Chhattisgarh, Odisha and Jharkhand, they are enjoying a free run and going reckless and adventurous. One of the biggest reasons for the failure in curbing Naxalism is the absence of coordination between the Central government and the Maoists infested states. The government is neither preparing the armed forces to counter the Naxalite menace nor is it showing any strong political will. No one knows why the other states are not raising the Greyhounds Commandos like the Andhra government. Why is it that the government has been turning a blind eye to the collusion of some leaders with the Naxalites?
The Central government seems to be proactive after the bloodbath in Bastar, but did it show the same robust approach when the Naxals had killed the jawans of armed forces, common citizens or opposition leaders? After all, why were these incidents not termed an attack on democracy? It is now clear that the menace of Naxalism has grown bigger during the UPA’s stint. One of the reasons for this is that there is no unanimity between the Centre and the Congress party that is leading it in this context. The ruling dispensation at Centre and state governments are always found singing different tunes when it comes to take on Naxalism. Whereas Jayram Ramesh is putting the onus of controlling the Naxalites on the state governments, the state governments on their part have been blaming the Centre for not providing them with adequate support. It is really surprising that in the Naxal-infested areas, the government machinery just does not exist. At some places, local people could not muster courage to go to police or take any government help in the face of Red Terror. The situation is so bad in these areas that the cut for the Naxalites is made even prior to the floating of the tenders for ‘development work.’ This is a direct challenge to the Indian constitution and the law of the land, but no one seems willing to take up cudgels against the Naxalites.
Only after the findings of NIA—which has been entrusted with the responsibility of investigating the Chhattisgarh mayhem—it would be clear where and what the lapses were, however, it could not be ruled out that the state government had to ensure proper security to the ‘Parivartan Yatra’. Notably, Mahendra Verma was himself demanding for beefing up security for himself but it was not looked into by the Central government. After the barbaric attack in Chhattisgarh, the Centre has announced sending more central security forces and help in development work. It has also accepted that the population living in the heart of the Naxalite areas will be considered ‘Below Poverty Line.’ All in all, this is window-dressing, the same sort of approach is also being applied by the state governments. It seems both the governments have nothing new to offer.
However both the BJP and Congress underlined eschewing politics Naxal attack, they did not stick to their words even for a day. The way they indulged in mudslinging after the attack was reprehensible. The Naxalites must be gloating over it. It is apparent that the upcoming assembly election in the state is potent reason for this war of words. Both the parties are looking forward extracting maximum mileage out of this issue. Whereas the Central government must accept that it has not been able to formulate a solid policy to effectively counter the Naxal menace, the Raman Singh government that rode back to power last time on the slogan of development must accept that he has failed in reining in the menace of Red Terror. It is quite possible that he will try to sweep this accusation under the carpet citing the longstanding nature of the problem of Naxalism, however his ten years at the helm of affairs is not a short duration either. It needs to be seen how much help the state government got from the Centre for the tribal areas and if this was completely utilised? It will be worthwhile if both the parties, instead of hurling accusations at each other, sit together to find a concrete solution to curb this problem, which has been termed as biggest threat to the internal security of the nation by the Prime Minister umpteenth times.
(An original copy of the article published in Hindi on June 2, 2013 translated by the English editorial. The author is the Group Editor of Dainik Jagran)