100% Pure And Simple Terrorism
Around 200 rebel Maoists blew up the railway line with dynamites at Chintamani village between Dighwara and Pipra stations in east Champaran District on May 20, causing derailment and burning of fourteen oil tankers of a goods train.
On May 17, the Maoists blew up a commercial passenger bus in Dantewada of Chhattisgarh, causing 35 fatalities, mostly civilians. This incident occurred within one month of the most gruesome killing of 76 CRPF personnel in the area.
Few days ago, the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) seized 20 tonne consignment of ammunition, which appears to have a strong terror imprint and meant for the Maoists, in Loni, Uttar Pradesh. The containers are believed to have been sourced from US war surpluses, meaning thereby that they were smuggled out of Pakistan/ Afghanistan region where the US troops are present to fight the Taliban. This underscored once again the linkage of the Maoists with the notorious terrorist groups outside the country, including the LTTE and ISI, for armed training and procurement.
Early last month, a constable who was guarding a village in Bihar’s Munger district has been beheaded by Naxals in the area. The act of beheading the people has been mastered by the Maoists, who, share the barbaric method of killing with the Islamic fundamentalists and the now defeated LTTE lumpens of Sri Lanka.
The Maoist barbarity also includes burning alive of families, including women and children evident from numerous incidents in Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa and Chhattisgarh. In fact, in 2008, it was reported how in a Orissa village the Maoists killed a villager who refused to part with his land produce and then ate his flesh openly inside the village, just to spread the ruthlessness of their terror among the already shocked villagers.
I have just cited the above incidents to prepare the readers understand the increasing helplessness of our Home Minister P Chidambaram in tackling the ever-growing Maoist menace. I am not going into the merits of his recent pronouncements that he had a “limited mandate” to fight the Maoists, that it is the primary responsibility of the concerned Chief Ministers to do the needful and that it is beyond him to ensure air coverage, as demanded by many Chief Ministers, in the anti-Maoist operations. The basic question here is the confused mindsets of our ruling elites and they include the “human rights jhola-wallas” – as far as the Maoist rebels are concerned. Should we treat the Maoists as terrorists or not?
A former Chief Minister of a major state and a very senior Congress leader is literally after Chidambaram. He has used words against him. He makes one feel that the Maoists are the most patriotic Indians. In a TV interview, he said that no Indian could ever become a terrorist. “Terrorists in India are those who only come from outside”, he thundered.
Just imagine what a Home Minister can do if his party is not solidly behind him. I doubt whether rest of his cabinet colleagues, including the Prime Minister, have some sympathy for him. Though one has not noticed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh issuing any single statement in recent months and this despite the fact that it was he who three years ago described Maoism to be constituting the gravest threat to India’s internal security; it is well known that he is confused on the issue. He had made an astounding comment at an election meeting in Maharashtra on October 11 that “Maoists are not terrorists” and that he would be happy to talk to them.
Let us see whether the universally accepted definitions and understanding of terrorism apply to the Maoists or not. While it is true that “one man’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter” has often haunted the debate on terrorism for decades, we propose to cite those definitions accepted and used in the United Nations (UN) of which India is a leading member:
UN Resolution language (1999):”1. Strongly condemns all acts, methods and practices of terrorism as criminal and unjustifiable, wherever and by whomsoever committed; 2. Reiterates that criminal acts intended or calculated to provoke a state of terror in the general public, a group of persons or particular persons for political purposes are in any circumstance unjustifiable, whatever the considerations of a political, philosophical, ideological, racial, ethnic, religious or other nature that may be invoked to justify them”. (GA Res. 51/210 Measures to eliminate international terrorism).
UN Security Council Resolution 1566 referes to terrorism as “criminal acts, including against civilians, committed with the intent to cause death or serious bodily injury, or taking of hostages, with the purpose to provoke a state of terror in the general public or in a group of persons or particular persons, intimidate a population or compel a government or an international organisation to do or to abstain from doing any act”.
On March 17, 2005, a UN panel described terrorism as any act “intended to cause death or serious bodily harm to civilians or non-combatants with the purpose of intimidating a population or compelling a government or an international organisation to do or abstain from doing any act”.
Any honest and sincere readings of the above resolutions in the world body, which India has never opposed, make it amply clear that the Maoists are nothing but terrorists.
It is often easy to cite the usual factors of underdevelopment, corruption in the bureaucracy, police atrocities and exploitation of tribals and poor people contributing to the growing influence of the Maoists. But that is one part of the story. One should not forget the other part, which is that as is the case in Kashmir and many parts of the North east, people are supporting the so-called revolutionaries in the “Red Corridor” in eastern/central India not out of love and reverence but because of terror and fear.
Maoists and their leaders are flourishing because money— important for them to procure sophisticated weapons—is no longer any problem. Most Maoist leaders have over the past two decades acquired large properties in the urban areas with the money that flows into them through extortion, which, according to one estimate, yields some Rs 3,000 crores annually. And those exhorted are not only the contractors, businessmen, doctors and engineers but also the poor labourers and farmers who are forced to part with a substantial portion of their earnings. They raise funds through extortion or by setting up parallel administrations to collect taxes in rural areas where local governments and the Indian State appear absent. This is not all. Smuggling of contrabands and wood as well as poppy cultivations also enrich their coffers.
The inescapable truth is that the Maoists want to capture state power through violence. They are not the friends of poor and downtrodden. They use them as cannon-feeders. They do not want their development. They want to ensure their impoverishment so that they will have a pretext to use them; otherwise they would not be blowing up school buildings, roads, railway tracks and hospitals in areas under their influence.
All those who advise to talk with the Maoists are essentially helping the Maoist cause. Talks could at best lead to a truce. But then truce is no substitute for a lasting peace. The Maoists need to be crushed ruthlessly. Pure and simple.
By Prakash Nanda