Declare War Now Or Perish
Wherever Maoists make inroads, they rob the soul of that area. India’s soul is being desiccated by the imported ideology and violence of the Maoists
Once captured, Mahendra Karma was stabbed more than 70 times by Maoist women cadres. This level of brutality and dehumanization of women and children is a result of sustained indoctrination and psychological campaign by the Maoists in their liberated zones. In these zones, not a soul owing allegiance to the Indian State is present. Mao’s photographs have replaced local deities and morning prayers in schools that remain functional have been supplanted by revolutionary songs, wherein children are exhorted to kill those Indian citizens who come in the way of establishment of a Maoist state.
Being Indian Means Death
Anyone suspected of being loyal to the Indian State is subject to most grisly murder in full public view. Following one such murder in Malkangiri district in Orissa, the local Maoist leader ate the flesh of the victim in front of the villagers to drive terror so that they did not even dream of being loyal to the Indian State.
This author was told by the Collector of the Gaya district in Bihar that on the eve of one Independence Day, the Maoists had issued a diktat that only black flags will be hoisted in the schools. In one particular school, a class VII girl student could not bear the anti-national sight, and in a fit of patriotic rage, she tore down the black flag and hoisted the national flag. She and her family have been missing since then.
Aiding in this savagery and criminalisation of innocent people of India are characters such as ‘a drug addict fiction writer turned activist’, criminals in garb of saffron, professors drawing huge salaries from the State, students owning cars and enjoying educational and hostel facilities hugely subsidised by the State, and social workers with names to mislead their religious denomination. One such social worker has been carrying out vasectomy operations on young Maoist cadres in Gadchiroli district of Maharashtra so that they can sleep with women cadres without consequences. The Maoist leaders adopted this course because a large number of their armed cadres were abandoning the terrorist path in favour of settled family life. The Maoist leaders have, over a period of time, created such terror that women have no option but to become tools of violence and sex in the service of male cadres. Villages are being terrorised to ‘donate’ at least one child from each family to the cause of
Those who refused to compromise the modesty of their wives and daughters, the future of their sons, and the honour of their Gods, made escape from the ‘liberated zones’ and formed the ‘Salwa Judum’. The slain Mahendra Karma, who supported the ‘Salwa Judum’ was also a tribal, and chose to rescue the people from the Maoist terror, was a Congress leader. In his struggle, he received little or no support from his own party. The over-ground Maoists in Delhi, who economically thrive on extortion money of the Maoists and have been provided adivasi servants and maids went on an overdrive to discredit ‘Salwa Judum’, which means ‘peace march’. It did not occur to the right quarters that the members of Salwa Judum had left their homes, hearth and their lands to escape terror.
Who is Responsible?
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi on their visit to Chhattisgarh after the massacre in Dantewada\ Sukma on May 25, in which 27 people were killed furiously inquired as to ‘who was responsible’. Agitated senior most civil servant of the state bluntly retorted to Rahul saying, “I am responsible”.
The responsibility actually lies with Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh, in that order. The defining symbol was Binayak Sen. To allow the European Commission members to attend the trial of Binayak Sen (accused of aiding the Maoists) in Raipur was nothing but criminal collusion with Maoists. His appointment as member of a Health Committee of Planning Commission dispelled any doubts regarding this collusion. The nexus between international forces and elements in the Indian government in furthering Maoism was obvious.
Foreign Support and Religious Catalyst
While the regional support frame work of the Maoists is well known, its European support structure has either been dismissed or ignored. The Maoists Communist Party, Manipur in a press release on 09 December 2011 revealed the support by various ultra-leftist outfits based in Philippines, Malaysia, European countries and Canada. The various ultra-leftist outfits aiding and abetting the Maoists in India are Association for Proletarian Solidarity, Italy (ASP), Communist Party of Philippines (CPP), Maoists Communist Party of France (MCPF), Partito Comunista maoista (PCM) Italia, Party of the Committees to Support Resistance for Communism (CARC), Revolutionary Communist Party, Canada (PCR-RCP), and Struggling Socialist Union, Italy (SLL). This explains the visit of a delegation from the European Commission to witness the trial of Binayak Sen. This also explains the kidnappings (allegedly staged) of two Italians Paolo Bousco (58) and Claudio Colangelo (61) . Paolo has been trekking in Orissa for many years. Both the Italians had gone to Orissa jungles despite travel advisory by their government. Both were abducted from the Kandhmahal area where most Maoist terrorists are Panna-cast Christians and the Maoist discourse in the region has strong Church and anti-Hindu elements.
Christian evangelical organisations world over have thrived in insurgency. Their tacit support to LTTE in Sri Lanka and Maoists in Nepal is well documented. In fact conversions, which was banned in Nepal is now like wild fire. In April 2012 nine French tourists were deported from Bihar as their activities in the interior of the State betrayed Maoist links.
These ultra-leftist groups have been conducting meets in Europe in support of Peoples War in India being waged by the Indian Maoists. These are attended by the Maoists leaders, sympathisers and benefactors of the Indian Maoists.
The Anti-National Tribal Discourse
The bogey of Maoist insurgency being tribal problem is propagated by vested interests at the behest of foreign-funded NGOs and evangelical organisations. It is a deliberate untruth with anti-national motives. The Maoist menace has consumed 230 districts spread from Kerala to the Nepal border. Of these not more than 20 per cent are tribal majority districts. In Jharkhand, which has 24 districts, no more than three have tribal majority population. The same is the case with Odisha. The 32 districts of Bihar are impacted by Maoist terror, not a single has tribal majority. The causality figures over the years given in Table, reflects the spread of the Maoist problem.
Revolutionaries or Dacoits?
In 1989, the former Indian Air Force Chief, Air Chief Marshal Dennis La Fontaine, who had chosen to settle in rural Andhra Pradesh, was robbed of his pistol by the Maoists. In fact, he was tied up with the chair and he remarked whether they were revolutionaries or dacoits? Twelve years down the line, i.e. in November 2001, he was again robbed of another pistol. Comparing the two incidents La Fontaine said: “The confidence of the teenagers this time was much higher because they were better armed.” In 1989, he maintained: “That seemed a ragtag bunch while this one came in jungle fatigues, boots and caps.” The State, however, did not show any resolve to tackle the menace of Maoism in the intervening years.
Even more recently one Group Captain RK Prasad, had to cough up Rs 10 lakh for the release of his brother, kidnapped by the Maoists in Jharkhand. The Air Force Officer ran from pillar to post in desperation, met the Governor and the DGP of Jharkhand, but time was running out given the Maoists deadline on which his brother’s life precariously hung. He literally had to beg all quarters to arrange the demanded sum. Incidentally, the Group Captain was one of the officers coordinating the air effort at Air Headquarters during 26/11.
If the Indian State fails to be impelled by the latest massacre at Darbha, it may well be prepared to dissolve itself from being a liberal and a democratic state. The massacre only signifies the extent of subversion of democracy by the Maoists. Can there be free and fair election in the fear ridden Dantewada region? The same question needs to be applied in all the 230 districts affected by the Maoist insurgency. These districts constitute one-third of India. Election time is the biggest extortion bonanza for the Maoists. The Maoists have been manipulating voting patterns by selective use of boycott call. One Chief Minister aspirant of a state allegedly paid 300 crore to the Maoists in the last elections. Another political party in Jharkhand owes half its 15 seats to the Maoists. An MP from Jharkhand was shown on television to be soliciting the favour of a Maoist leader during the elections. A speaker of a state legislative assembly is known to have truck with the Maoists.
Revolutionary objectives notwithstanding, the Dantewada massacre therefore was part of political manipulation and extortion of politicians before the impending Lok Sabha elections. The targeted killing clearly indicates an insider involvement of the Congress party. The Maoists otherwise are known to resort to indiscriminate firing whenever they spring an ambush. The politicians who became victim of the Maoists, by all reckoning, were seemingly lured into the trap by assurance during backdoor talks with the Maoist leaders.
In Jharkhand, Odisha and Maharashtra, a large number of Panchayats have been electorally captured by the Maoists by sheer intimidation. Indian money flowing through the Panchayats is being utilised by the Maoists to acquire weapons and bolstering their fighting capability.
The Maoists, therefore, have subverted all levels of democracy, i.e. panchayats, state legislatures and now the Parliament.
Indians Have To Be Rescued
It is again a criminal neglect of the Indian State that it has failed to rise up to the dying imperative to rescue people who are hostage to Maoist terror. They deserve the same freedom as rest of India including over-ground Maoists. Their children too deserve a secular, liberal education. They too deserve to be weaned on stable families and childhood innocence. Instead they are being forcibly recruited and trained for violence. Maoists have destroyed about 300 schools. Teachers have run away due to Maoist terror. Those who remain are forced to follow violence-loaded ideological syllabus prescribed by the Maoists. They too deserve to enjoy the entertainment and information provided by the television. They too deserve to communicate with their near and dear ones. The Maoists have in all destroyed more than 200 communication towers. Only days before the Dantewada massacre they attacked the Doordarshan station in Jagdalpur.
The Collector of Dantewada told this author that his efforts to take electricity to the poor in the region under the Rajiv Gandhi Vidyutikaran Yojna has been frustrated by the Maoists, as they destroy the pylons because they feel that electricity would bring television, which in turn will bring awareness. They too deserve the schemes of the State to impact on their lives. The Maoists do not allow that for fear of losing their control and influence, and even if some of them are selectively allowed, it is much in diluted form after filtration. The
Maoists are, therefore, thriving on
Above all inhabitants of Red Corridor have done nothing to deserve medieval dispensation of justice which ranges from decapitation to flogging by Maoist ‘Jan Adalats.’
Just as democracy, economic development in the Red Corridor is being prevented or subverted by the Maoists. Mahesh and Sarita, a couple dedicated to the upliftment of Sabdo village in Gaya district of Bihar were brutally gunned downed by the Maoists in 2004 because they dared to bring unprecedented economic development through peoples’ participation. Their achievements were hailed by leading Indian dailies. Their lives were snuffed out by the Maoists because they saw their influence being eroded. No infrastructure development is allowed by the Maoists in the ‘liberated zones’ and in other areas only those contractors are allowed who are ready to pay abnormal amount of extortion money. The extortion industry of the Maoists by conservative estimates is 20,000 crore. Illegal mining also fetches several thousand crores.
In fact the Dawood gang has been trying to get into the illegal mining business through the Maoists. They have also made forays into opium cultivation and drugs. Corporates have no choice but to purchase peace with the Maoists. India’s economic sovereignty too is being subverted by the Maoists. The economic drain due to the Maoist terror can be gauged from the fact in Maharashtra alone which has just three Naxal affected districts of Gadchiroli, Bhandara and Gondia and crores are spent by the government on VVIP security which also includes members of human rights commission. Each VVIP is provided three-tier security by 550 personnel as per Home Minister RR Patil. If this cost was to be extrapolated on the entire Red Corridor its magnitude would be overwhelming.
In Maoists, inimical powers have found a willing tool to pursue their agenda of stunting India’s growth.
Anti-Nationals and China’s Proxies
This press release of 5 May 2009 of CPI (M) Central Committee on developments in Nepal should dispel all doubts regarding the Maoists being China’s proxies. The press release says: “US imperialism and Indian expansionism are particularly perturbed over the growing influence of China over the region, consolidation of China’s grip over Sri Lanka, and fear that the government in Nepal is moving closer to China. And it is this fear which is common to both India and the US that has pushed these powers to oust the government-led by Maoists in a bid to install a regime loyal to them… it (Indian Maoists) pledges all support to the Maoists in Nepal in their fight against Indian expansionism”.
“THIS IS A DIRECT ATTACK ON OUR DEMOCRACY”
— Raman Singh, Chief Minister, Chhattisgarh
The entire nation was shocked when the Naxals attacked and killed 24 Congress workers in Chhattisgarh, including state Congress chief Nand Kumar Patel. Ramesh Naiyyar talks to state Chief Minister Raman Singh immediate after the incident. Excerpts:
The deadly attack on Congress leaders during their Parivartan Yatra, in which Pradesh Congress Chief along with former leader of opposition Mahendra Karma was killed, is the biggest attack on any political party in Chhattisgarh. What’s your reaction?
The incident is very unfortunate and shocking. It is a direct attack on our democracy. Nand Kumar Patel and Mahendra Karma were senior leaders. Their martyrdom is a great loss to the state and the country. Mahendra Karma bravely fought against the Naxals for two decades. His 15-16 kin were killed in Naxal attacks. That is why he knew that the Naxals had assembled to eliminate him. From the source I have, Karma went to Naxals identifying himself with raised hands after getting down from his vehicle. I was told that his head was riddled with Naxals’ bullets. Later, they crushed his body with the butt of guns. Karma was martyred with the same degree of bravery he had displayed all his life fighting against the Naxals. I salute his courage. I pay my homage to all who were martyred along with Nand Kumar Patel. Indian democracy will remember their sacrifice.
Former Chief Minister Ajit Jogi has alleged that the Congressmen taking part in the Parivartan Yatra were not provided adequate security.
Karma was provided Z-category security. Judicial inquiry has been ordered for this barbaric act. The inquiry will reveal the truth.
Jogi has demanded the imposition of President’s rule in the wake of state government’s failure to tackle the Naxal menace.
This is a grave political crisis emanating out of this Naxal attack. It will not be proper to indulge in politics at this moment. In fact, the Naxals are not only the foes of the Congress, the BJP or any other political party, they are enemies of democracy. They have not spared any political party. On November 1, 2000, immediate after the formation of Chhattisgarh when Ajit Jogi was the first Chief Minister of the state, the Naxals had attacked a police convoy and killed a brilliant young police officer—Bhaskar Dewan in north Bastar district. Apart from security forces, the Naxals used to target elected public representatives. They killed in the temple Tansen Kashyap, the elder brother of our tribal minister Kedar Kashyap, who was a senior BJP leader. The Naxals are the foes of every elected representative—right from the Panchayat to the Lok Sabha-level. The BJP has lost over 50 elected representatives in Naxal attacks.
So, the incident should not be mired in politics.
The Congress has alleged that in your tenure of nearly a decade now, the entire Chhattisgarh has been in the grip of Naxals. The country wants to know how will you fight the Naxals in their citadel in Abujhmad.
The spread of Naxalism or extreme-Left-wing has taken roots in Bastar in the last six decades. The security forces acting swiftly had crushed the movement, when Comrade BT Randive gave a call to overthrow the Nehru government. Then, lots of “comrades” had entered south Bastar abutting Warangal. At that time, they were weak and without arms. They waited patiently for one or one-and-half decade to turn the situation in their favour. When the then Madhya Pradesh government due to political reasons sent police into the palace of Pravir Chandra Bhanj Deo and got him killed on March 25, 1966, the Left extremists got an opportunity to win the hearts of the tribals. By then the Kakatiya University Warangal had turned into a citadel of the Leftists. As Pravir Chandra was himself a Kaktiya Rajput and his ancestors had set up their kingdom after coming from Warangal, the extremists from Warangal got an emotional issue. By this way, Chhatttisgarh had inherited hunger, malnutrition and misgoverance. Wherever there is this triumvirate, the extremism gets a fertile land.
It has become a political fashion to blame previous governments for all the problems. Are you not doing the same?
The Bastar region was the most backward and undeveloped region of Madhya Pradesh. The government employees used to call it Kala Paani. It was a common practice in Madhya Pradesh that incompetent and corrupt officers were sent to inhospitable region in a bid to punish them. Barring some exceptions, Bastar witnessed the postings of such employees and officers for 50 years. Whoever knows Bastar, he knows that it was exploited by police, forest and revenue officials. The tribals of Bastar are peace-loving people, but they have their strong self-respect. They have been resorting to armed rebellion against oppression and exploitation ever since the days of the British rule. The Bhumkal rebellion of 1910 is a significant one. The top Naxal leader Kondapalli Seetharamaiah, too, had taken stock of the situation in Bastar. His kin had settled in south Bastar and tried to connect tribals with Naxalism. Ever since then, three-four generations of people from Bastar were groomed consciously to connect them with Naxalism. When the Naxals terrorised the government officials indulged in exploitation and repression, they won the hearts of tribals. As a result, Naxalism got a fertile land in Bastar.
For the last 10 years, the BJP has been in power in Chhattisgarh and you are the state chief minister. What have you done to resolve the Naxal problem?
It is a very complex issue. In fact, it is not a problem of a single state, but it’s a national issue. More than 180 districts of eight to nine states are the Naxal-hit region. Even the prime minister has several times accepted that the Naxal violence is the biggest threat to internal security. So, its solution lies in coordinated efforts at the national level.
That is right, but what Chhattisgarh has done and what it intends to do?
We have given first priority to those reasons due to which extremism or terrorism takes its root and flourishes. The first reason was hunger. I have studied as far as possible philosophy, history, culture, folk traditions and the literature available on the public life of the tribals of Bastar region. As a chief minister of the state and prior to that as a former Central minister and as an MLA of the state, I have extensively travelled Bastar. I have tried to have a live contact with the region. Honestly speaking, I have been enchanted with the dense forest and the simple tribals of Bastar. Believe me, Bastar has been constantly in my thinking and I am very much concerned about it. Our government has been acting on both long-term and short-term strategy to end the menace of Naxalism. We are working extensively to bring the tribals into national mainstream with the expansion of education and development. But the problem is that the Naxals do not allow the construct of bridges, culverts, roads and rail tracks and whatever have been constructed, they damage them. They cut off electric wires and pull down electric poles. They want to keep Bastar in the darkness of the past. The students of Bastar are faring well in education in spite of odds. They are doing well in the engineering and medical examinations for the past four-five years. They are clearing the exams also. See in their eyes. Just try to read the future of Bastar in their eyes. Whoever have been made the orphans at the hands of the Naxals, try to understand the raging fire in their minds.
The tribal children are also orphaned with the bullets of the security forces. Even in their eyes, there are fire. There is an anger. Will it not make them close to the Naxals?
I have immediately ordered the judicial enquiry for the Arasmeta incident you are talking about. The matter is sub-judice, so it will not be proper to comment on it. Even a security personnel was martyred in that incident. Some security personnel were hurt also. It is known to all that the Naxals use women and children as shield during the encounter with police. (Signalling towards a prominent national daily) Just go through the first page. (All the news were from Bastar. In a Naxal court, three tribals were mercilessly beaten and and a villager was hanged to death. Three other news dealt with firings on police posts by Naxals, a story was an attack on the SDM by Naxals, while one story was a visit of state home minister in Naxal areas.)
You have cleverly sidetracked my question.
If you had been present at Dantewada in Bastar during the beginning of the Vikas Yatra, you would have felt raising this question as irrelevant. After worshipping the Goddess Danteshwari, when LK Adwani flagged off Vikas Yatra, he was spellbound to see the large crowd of tribals comprising men, women and youths. There were several women with their six-month or one-year-old baby trying to reach near me.
How did Indira Gandhi deal?
Only a few years ago the Maoists had called for a railway bandh. Consequently more than two dozen trains between Mugalsarai and Calcutta were cancelled. The East-West railway communication in India came to a naught. This is pure recipe of disaster during a full-scale war with China or Pakistan or both, for the danger it poses for inter-theatre movement of men and material. This threat to the integrity of the country by the Maoists is not new. The Naxalbari movement grew rapidly between 1969 and 1971. In 1971, the war clouds were hovering over India and India’s eastern theatre had become strategically sensitive. Given the China-Pakistan strategic partnership and China-Naxalite links, Mrs Gandhi realized the need to tackle the Naxals immediately and with a firm hand she announced in Parliament that the Naxalites would be fought to the finish. Accordingly, Operation Steeplechase was launched from July to August 1971 by the army and police in West Bengal and the bordering districts of Bihar and Orissa. There were 1,400 arrests in Andhra, 2000 in Bihar, 4000 in West Bengal and 1000 in Kerala. Several leaders were killed. This clearly indicates that even then the Maoists movement was pan-Indian in nature and had little to do with demands of development and local grievances.
If Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh have some love for Indira Gandhi, beyond exigencies of politics, they are advised to dust the records of that period and read it.
How did Sardar Patel Deal?
At the time of Independence, the communist movement in Telangana was as or even more cruel and violent than the Maoist insurgency of today. In their bid to capture India, the communists under the banner of Andhra Mahasabha had ‘captured’ and liberated 3000 villages in the districts of Nalgonda, Warangal and Karimnagar. The communists were certain that with the help of China and the Soviet Union, they would be able to humble the nascent Indian nation-state and establish their one-party rule. It was then that Sardar Patel diverted a part of the Indian Army engaged in Operation Polo for integration of Hyderabad to deal with the communists in Telangana. More than 2000 communists were killed and the so-called ‘liberated’ areas were reclaimed by the Indian State. This bold measure by Sardar Patel made the communists realise the futility of violence and compelled them to enter electoral politics.
“THERE IS NO WILL TO CONTROL NAXALISM BY CHHATTISGARH GOVT.”
— B K Hari Prasad, AICC general secretary & in-charge, Chhattisgarh
The Maoist attack on a convoy of Congressmen In the Bastar region wiped out almost the entire leadership of the party’s unit in Chhattisgarh, barely six months before the assembly polls. There are many unanswered questions about the murderous assault which has shattered the morale of Congress workers but also evoked sympathy for the party and intensified its determination to keep up its campaigns among the people. It has also raised questions about the security environment in the BJP-ruled state, fuelled speculation about the impact of political activities in the Naxal-infested Bastar region and put a question mark on the central and state policies of handling left wing extremism. Angry and anguished Congress leaders have demanded that Chief Minister Raman Singh step down. B K Hari Prasad, AICC general secretary and in-charge of Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Haryana, smells a “political conspiracy” in the incident while talking to Saroj Nagi. Excerpts from an interview:
The Maoist attack on the Congress leadership in Chhattisgarh is a big tragedy and a huge setback to the party.
Yes, it is. After Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination, this is a major political assassination in the country. And it is not just an assassination, it is the biggest political conspiracy against the Congress leaders who were trying to settle down in Chhattisgarh, specially in the Bastar area. This was never expected. Nobody imagined that forces against democracy and the country can do this. It is one more addition in the history of the Congress party of the sacrifices it can make for this great country.
When you talk of a political conspiracy, who are you referring to? A political party or outside element or a combination or…
- It could be anything. Since the NIA (National Investigation Agency) is investigating, I do not want to make any comment on it. But normally the Naxalites never pick and choose while attacking their opponents. Here, they were picking out people. It is unheard of.
So, you think they were not Naxalites.
That is a big question. Whatever the ideology of the Naxalites may be, whatever may be the way they want to implement their programme— that is a different question. But the way they operated it was like the way the underworld dons used to operate in Mumbai—with supari killings. That’s something that is unheard of where Naxalites are concerned.
With the killing of Pradesh Congress Committee chief Nand Kumar Patel and others in the Maoist attack, there is now a kind of leadership vacuum in the party in the state. You were trying to groom this leadership and now you will have to nurture a new set of leadership.
Well, you see, the AICC (All India Congress Committee) was working in tandem with the leadership in Chhattisgarh. However, there will not be any problem as there is no dearth of leadership fortunately for the Congress party. But we may not get the same kind of leadership because Patel, for instance, was from the grassroots. He was a panchayat member. From a sarpanch he had risen to this level. We may not get that kind of activist. But still we have leaders of calibre.
Has the incident affected the morale of the workers?
Yes, it is shattered. We will have to act immediately and try to restore the confidence of the workers.
Does this mean that they will be afraid of going and campaigning?
No, no, no. The Congress is not afraid. No one can cow down the Congress party or its workers. With more vigour and more courage, we will activate our organisation in these areas.
When Andhra Pradesh controlled Naxalism, a lot of Maoists and Naxalites shifted from Andhra Pradesh to Chhattisgarh. The Naxal activity in Chhattisgarh is also a fallout of the Congress’s policy in Andhra Pradesh.
Naxal activity has come to a standstill in Andhra Pradesh because of our positive approach. People are also cooperating with us. People want that peace should prevail in every place and development should take place. But this is not happening in Chhattisgarh. There is no will. There is no will to control. That is the biggest problem in the state.
Would you blame the Raman Singh government for what has happened?
Yes. He has taken the blame on himself. He has said there was a lapse in security. That means he has taken the blame.
But when he talks of a security lapse, basically what he means is that officials are to be blamed.
No, it is the responsibility of the Chief Minister to protect the life and property of the people in the state. He has been elected by the people to protect them; not to blame the police.
When a person is given Z or Z plus security, it is the duty of the state government to ensure foolproof security and sanitize routes.
Do you want him to step down as chief minister in that case?
Obviously. He has admitted that there was a security lapse. The BJP says that it is his statesmanship that he has admitted to this lapse. But statesmanship is to quit the chair. Clearly, the BJP does not know the meaning of statesmanship.
What are the kind of questions the incident has raised about the state government?
We have been for the past four years raising this issue. We have been saying that the government is present only up to the national highway, specially in the Bastar region and that there is no government in the interior parts of Bastar. That has come true. The question is how to restore confidence among tribals and common people in Bastar because 99 per cent of them are tribals and their rights, life, property and culture have to be protected. But what is that the government is doing there?
There are also questions about the deployment of security forces and that not enough security was deployed.
That should be final and ultimate resort. We still have all possibilities. If government wants, it can tackle this issue because locally it will have access to all kinds of information. The pertinent question is about the will of the government. We had the will in Andhra Pradesh to control Maoists. Here it looks like that the BJP government does not have any will to control them.
Was the attack against a particular Congress leader or against the Congress party as such?
The way the Naxals have attacked clearly shows that the attack was on the leadership of the Congress party. They tried to wipe out the entire leadership of the party because they thought that all the leaders would be available in the party’s Parivartan Yatra—the Pradesh Congress Committee president, the Congress Legislature Party leader, V C Shukla, myself—everybody would have been there. Ajit Jogi was also there but he went off in a chopper. They thought they can wipe out the entire leadership. But they couldn’t. They targeted Mahendra Karma. He was their target. As for Nand Kumar Patel and his son, it is a mystery (why they targeted them). It is a mystery why they targeted
So, there are too many questions in the entire episode.
Yes, there are too many mysterious questions.
Maoists and Naxals normally attack security forces…
Security forces, government employees and specific people they want to target.
So, why do you think they picked on the Congress?
Maybe because they must be feeling a little worried about our activities of restoring confidence among the people in the Bastar region.
Will your political campaign continue in this area even after the tragedy?
Yes, of course. After the period of condolences we will decide (on the next phase of the programme).
Will what has happened in Chhattisgarh have an impact on the neighbouring states like Madhya Pradesh and Jharkhand?
It will have an impact all over the country. We are getting a feedback from almost all the units of our party of the kind of impact this has had.
More specifically, will it have an impact on the assembly elections in Chhattisgarh and states like Madhya Pradesh?
It is not a question of elections. We want elections to be free and fair. Forces should be deployed to ensure free and fair elections.
What is the Congress’s approach towards Naxalism now?
It is for the leadership to decide about what to do and how to go about it. After the phase of condolences is over, we will take up these issues.
So would you say that the Congress would be in a dilemma on how to deal with the Naxal issue, whether it should be with a heavy hand or…
(Interrupting). No, no, no, not at all. We have tackled it in Andhra Pradesh. And if we are voted in in Chhattisgarh, we will tackle it there also.
Whenever we take up our cause, we sacrifice our lives. To achieve our cause, we do not kill people like what other political parties have done.
The war is on. In this war the adversary has a deadly cocktail of ideology, foreign support, religious agenda, armed cadres, criminal financing and terror. It would be anti-national to treat it as a law and order problem. The assault is now on Indian democracy and the unity of India. Let us unite and fight because, now in question is the very air-of-freedom that we are breathing. We have been churning PHDs for several decades now on left-wing extremism. No more PHDs and no more seminars.
The Maoists have struck nexus by forging links with insurgent organisations in Northeast, with the ISI, terrorist organisations in Pakistan and Bangladesh, and with the Dawood gang. Together, Maoists and some of these outfits have formed a ‘strategic united front’. Combined, these inimical forces pose unprecedented destabilisation to India.
The war has to be fought by a combination of the Army, the Central Armed Police Forces and the state police forces on a pan-India basis. Each of these organisations has different capabilities to deal with the given level of threat and violence. The Maoists strongholds and ‘liberated zones’ with bunkers, mines and embedded explosives on avenues and roads can only be tackled by the Army. Nowhere in the world have insurgencies been operationally overcome without the Army. The expansion of the police forces and the CRPF amounts to ‘reinforcing failure’. It is none of their fault. Their training, orientation and primary role is different. In the Red Corridor they can be successful only in those areas where the threat is of the proportion of ‘law and order’ and not internal security. Moreover, police officers are trained to be managers of ‘law and order’ and not ‘leaders in combat’. Meanwhile, the Indian Army needs to revise its threat perception. This is an era of sub-conventional conflicts and so is the Maoist insurgency. Sardar Patel and Indira Gandhi had realised this long ago.
India has to be saved.