The country is confronted with a war, a war which is not of its choice and a war where the enemy is not a foreign power. This is a war which has been launched by a group of armed thugs and criminals. They are the so-called Maoists/Naxalites whose Maoism is pure and simple terrorism, which disguises itself with terms like “class struggle” and “social justice”.
Any about these armed thugs and terrorists was dispelled on April 6, the day they killed at least 75 paramilitary police in Chintalnar Tarmetla village of Chhattisgarh in a jungle ambush in arguably the bloodiest attack on security forces since their uprising began more than four decades ago.
Up to 700 Maoists took part in
the dawn attack on 82 members of the Central Reserve Police Force patrolling forests in the central Indian state. The rebels used automatic weapons and landmines to attack the patrol, and surrounded reinforcements who rushed to the scene in the Bastar region home to India’s largest iron ore mining company.
“It was a flash attack,” one of the seven troopers who escaped with severe injuries, told the press from his hospital bed. “I saw scores of my colleagues in a pool of blood. Maoists were spraying bullets on us.” At least 17 of the troops were killed when the rebels blew up a heavily armoured anti-mine vehicle sent in to retrieve the wounded, the police said.
“Something has gone very wrong. They seem to have walked into a trap,” said P Chidambaram, the Home Minister, who last year launched an unprecedented nationwide campaign against the Naxalites. “I’m deeply shocked. I’m sorry for those who’ve lost their lives. This shows the savage nature of the Naxalites.”
A top Maoist leader name Gopal, who is the ‘area commander’ of Bihar-Jharkahnd-northern Chhatisgarh, said “the attack in Chhatisgarh and the earlier one in Orissa is a direct consequence of the central government persisting with Operation Green Hunt”.
In an interview to BBC’s Hindi Service, Gopal said “there has been no impact of Operation Green Hunt on our cadres. We have become more alert since then. We believe that the time to engage in direct battle with the central government has now come. There is a new revolutionary zeal in our cadres”.
‘We have been surrounded by paramilitary battalions. They are setting fire to the forests and making adivasis (tribals) flee. In this situation, we have no other alternative but to stage attacks.
‘We were prepared to talk to the government. Chidambaram Sahab wanted a 72-hour ceasefire but our leader Kishenji offered a 72-day ceasefire. But we wanted an end to Operation Green Hunt and release of our leaders held in various jails to create the right environment for talks. But Chidambaram refused,’ he said.
6/4: India’s Black Day in Counter-Insurgency
6/4 will go down as a black day in the history of India’s counter-insurgency just as 26/11 became a black day in the history of Indian counter-terrorism.
In a well-prepared and well-executed attack of unprecedented mobilisation, precision and savagery a large number of Maoists (Naxalites)—estimated by the local police to be about 1000 strong—ambushed a combined party of over 80 members of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and the District Police returning from road security duty and managed to kill 72 members of the CRPF and one member of the District police force on April 6, 2010. The Maoists had reportedly taken up position on a hill overlooking the route by which the party was returning after performing its task. It is not clear whether the route was a regular road or a motorable jungle track. The ambush took place in the thick Mukrana forests of Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada district.
The fact that the Maoists were able to mobilise such a large number of persons for the ambush would indicate that they had advance indication of the return of the CRPF party by that route. They might have had advance intelligence of the plans of the party or they might have assessed that the CRPF might be returning by this road after watching the CRPF men conduct search and destroy operations in the area for three days.
A rule of precaution in counter-insurgency operation is that you don’t use the same route for going to an operational area and for returning from there. Often, this precaution is not followed by the security forces either due to carelessness or due to the fact that the security forces do not have much of a choice due to the poor development of roads in the jungle areas in which the Maoists operate.
One may recall an incident a couple of years ago when a large police party had gone by boat from Andhra Pradesh into Orissa. The Maoists had noticed them going and had correctly assessed that the AP police party would be returning by the same route. When they did, a large number of Maoists had taken up position on a raised feature overlooking the river and they literally mowed down over 50 members of the police party.
We had probably not learnt the right lessons from the river ambush and facilitated a deadly road ambush in thick forests by not following basic do’s and don’ts of counter-insurgency. The CRPF and the District Police have to perform a thankless task for want of proper road and telecommunications networks in the Maoist-infected areas. While the Maoists are trained to treck long distances by foot, the security forces tend to be road and vehicles-bound. They become sitting ducks for the insurgents, who surprise them with explosives and landmines and then mow them down with hand-held weapons. The reflexes of the security forces tend to be weak as could be seen from the fact that there have been very few instances of an ambushed security forces patrol recovering from the ambush and retaliating against the Maoists. Ambushes always tend to be fatal for the security forces with very few instances of successful counter-ambushes by the security forces.
Continuing serious deficiencies in rural policing and in police-rural communities relationships have been coming in the way of village help for the police by way of preventive intelligence. Counter-intelligence in the rural areas to prevent the penetration of the security forces by the Maoists is also weak. The fact that only one member of the District Police was killed in the ambush of April 6 as against 72 members of the CRPF makes one suspect possible collusion between the Maoists and some members of the District Police. Since the Maoist and the District Police recruits are recruited from the same rural stock, possibilities of penetration of the new police recruits by the Maoists are high.
The time has come to think in terms of using helicopter patrols and spotter drones in our counter-insurgency operations against the Maoists in areas covered by thick jungles. An important question to be examined in this connection is how to prevent civilian casualties of villagers and residents of jungles and avoid environmental damage.
By B Raman
The writer is Additional Secretary (Retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Government of India.
This makes one wonder what is happening and how a Maoist leader is successfully giving interview on radio openly and challenging government. Has the State become impotent?
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh seems to agree with the viewpoint that all told the Maoists are “our” countrymen and hence it is improper to use the armed forces, including the air power, against them. But then, do “these” countrymen believe in the concept of India? They are friends with the secessionist ULFA. They are having links with Pakistani ISI which is wedded to the concept of disintegration of India. Their leaders have openly said to gift away Kashmir and North-eastern states.
They train themselves on military pattern. They cannot be taken care of by the Police, which are essentially trained to handle unarmed people. If they have to be defeated decisively, the state must use all the forcers at its disposal by disregarding the crocodile tears of the so-called civil right activists who are nothing but the civilian faces of these armed thugs and terrorists.
For all the talk of the Maoists as ‘criminals’ and ‘extortionists’, Left Wing Extremists perceive themselves as engaged in a coherent, strategically consistent, and enormously successful approach to the generation of necessary financial resources for their ‘revolution’. Article 60 of the ‘constitution’ of the Communist Party of India Maoist (CPI-Maoist) lists membership fees, levies, donations, taxes, penalties and wealth confiscated from enemies’ as principal sources of revenue. Of course, the overwhelming proportion of these various revenues are not ordinarily eagerly relinquished by those who ‘contribute’ to the Maoist treasure chest, and the rebels employ a range of the most unsavoury methods of extraction.
The CPI-Maoist networks of revenue generation are estimated to extend, at various degrees of efficacy, across 223 Districts (in a total of 636 Districts in the country). Significant disruptive dominance has been established by the Maoists in some 2,000 Police Station jurisdications (out of a total of over 14,000 Police Stations in the country), covering roughly 40,000 square kilometre.
On November 29, 2009, Chhattisgarh Director General of Police Vishwa Ranjan claimed that the Maoists annually extort up to INR 20 billion across India. Earlier, documents and hard disks seized from Misir Mishra, a central committee member of the CPI-Maoist, who was arrested in Jharkhand in March 2008, had revealed that the CPI-Maoist collected over INR 10 billion in 2007 through their state committees and had set a target of INR 11.25 billion for 2008. Accordingly, increased levies were imposed on the state committees. The seized documents showed that Andhra Pradesh had gone down in the fund raising ranking from second to third spot, after Bihar and Chhattisgarh. While Bihar raised INR 2 billion in 2007, Andhra Pradesh collections came down from INR 3 billion to INR 1 billion. Jharkhand raised INR 750 million in 2007 and was expected to raise INR 1.1 billion in 2008. Maharashtra raised INR 1 billion while Karnataka contributed INR 780 million, and Tamil Nadu pitched in with INR 350 million in 2007. Mishra reportedly told the Police that some prominent Maoist leaders, such as Andhra Pradesh state committee secretary Konapuri Ilaiah aka Sambashivudu (who eventually surrendered to the Police on February 15, 2009) alone raised over INR 800 million and Muppala Lakshman Rao alias Ganapathi, the general secretary of the party, raised INR 2.85 billion in 2007. Mishra had revealed, further, “All the leaders operated their own bank accounts, funded their units and operations but reported to
the central committee. They also contributed to the corpus fund of the central military commission separately for the maintenance of the provincial guerrilla army.”
The Maoists target road contractors, contractors for forest products like tendu patta (leaves of the Diospyros Melonoxylon plant), bamboo and wood. They have reportedly made deals with poachers, smugglers and liquor and timber runners in the forests. In the areas under their control, including District towns, Maoists levy a ‘tax’ on small enterprises, such as spinning mills, beedi units, rice and flour mills, grocery, medical, cigarette and liquor shops, and private doctors. All illegal operators, including private schools operating in villages and District towns, are also coerced to pay. The Maoists secure large revenues from iron and coal mining companies. Apart from abductions, extortion and looting, Maoists also set up unofficial administrations to collect ‘taxes’ in rural areas, where the official Government apparatus appears largely to be absent.
Another major source of funding for the Maoists is poppy or opium cultivation. The Ghagra area of Gumla district in Jharkhand and parts of Gumla, Kishanganj and Purnia districts in Bihar are reported to be the principal pockets of poppy cultivation exploited by the Maoists. Security Forces claim that opium fields are screened and hidden behind peripheral maize cultivation. The Union Finance Ministry in its annual report for 2009-10, released in March 2010, said that the Central Bureau of Narcotics (CBN) carried out destruction operations on at least 1,443 hectares in 2009 alone. In 2007, the same agency had carried out a similar action at a much larger scale in bordering areas of West Bengal, where it had destroyed illicit opium grown over 6,000 hectares. The illicit crops destroyed in the Murshidabad and Nadia districts of West Bengal were then estimated at a value of over INR 12 billion, if diverted to drug cartels for the manufacture of heroin. In India, opium is cultivated under strict licensing procedures in select pockets spread across three states Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. The entire opium crop is purchased by the government and processed at government-run factories for their further use in pharmaceutical industries.
The cultivation of ganja (cannabis) is another source of Maoist revenue. The Justice PK Mohanty Commission of Inquiry, which submitted its report in December 2008 on the activities and operation of drug mafia in Orissa, highlighted that Maoists in the state were supporting extensive cultivation of ganja in hilly and inaccessible areas. The Mohanty Commission Report gave details of how the cultivation of ganja in Maoist-affected districts was being supported by Chasi Mulia Samiti, a front organisation of the CPI-Maoist. The Samiti was banned by the State Government on June 9, 2006. The Report, based on an extensive investigation in 2003, said cannabis was being cultivated at the behest of Maoists in Ganjam, Gajapti and Malkangiri districts. The report estimated that about 3,000-4,000 hectare of encroached forest land, mostly dominated by the erstwhile People’s War Group (which later merged with the Maoist Communist Centre to form the CPI-Maoist) were being utilised for cultivation of cannabis. The Report noted that Bargarh district had emerged as the epicentre of this trade.
The Director General of the Central Economic Intelligence Bureau (DGCEIB) had written, in June 2009, to all Chief Secretaries and heads of anti-narcotics agencies, and other departments concerned, urging them to initiate steps to eradicate cultivation of illicit opium that had spread over 10 states. The centre had provided satellite images and shared other inputs, pinpointing areas where the opium crop was grown on large tracts running into thousands of hectare. Security agencies don’t rule out the fact that Maoists are not only benefiting from the illicit trade but, in many areas, the crop is being cultivated under their supervision. The government had asked the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB), under the Home Ministry and the Central Bureau of Narcotics (CBN), under the Department of Revenue in the Finance Ministry, to take adequate action.
Finance has never been a constraint on Maoist activities in Jharkhand. Jharkhand’s forest and mineral resources and related industries provide an almost limitless source of extorted revenues.
Jharkhand Police documents suggest that a section of contractors, transporters and businessmen involved in illegal mining pay over INR 400 million annually as ‘levy’ to the CPI-Maoist in the State. Another lucrative source has been the Centre’s ongoing Golden Quadrilateral road building project. Extortion from the common folk is pegged at INR 10,000 per farmer per year, virtually across the State. The Maoists also have reportedly made deals with poachers, smugglers and liquor and timber runners in the forests. The Maoists have also approached schools for funding their activities. In July 2009, they demanded INR 50,000 from a government school in Lathehar district’s Sinjo region and threatened to blow up the school if their demand was not met.
The Maoists have also been known to receive funds from some of the top corporate houses. These companies are big players in the metals, mining, steel and manufacturing sectors. Senior Maoist leader in the Bihar-Jharkhand area, Narla Ravi Sharma, arrested in Bihar in October 2009, told the authorities that the companies regularly pay the Maoists. On March 5, 2010, Union Home Secretary Gopal K Pillai stated: “They (the Maoists) can now bring many sectors of the Indian economy to their knees. But they don’t want to do it today. They know that if they do that now, the State will come down very hard on them. They are not fully prepared to face the onslaught of the state machinery. So, they would rather go very slowly.”
Reports also indicate that a number of Non Government Organisations (NGOs) were funding the training of Maoists in the Bodhyaga district of Bihar. 22 NGOs in Gaya district were issued a show-cause notice for their Maoist links in July 2007. The Block Social Welfare Officer, Chandrika Prasad noted, “A lot of NGOs are involved with Naxal elements. We even know that many of the NGO workers are Maoists themselves.” Dwarko Sundrani, who runs an NGO, Samanvaya Ashram in Bodhgaya admitted to the links, stating, “Naxals often approach us for money, but we provide them food, clothing and shelter as we believe in the concept of hriday parivartan (change of heart).” A Bihar government document lists several NGOs suspected of diverting funds to the Maoists. Most such NGOs are funded by visiting tourists or international donor agencies. The then Bihar Home Secretary, Afzal Amanullah stated, in July 2007, “intelligence agencies did report such things being channelised. Now, we have got to warn foreigners and do a lot of planning to stop this worrisome syndrome from spreading”. Deputy Inspector General (DIG), Magadh Range, Umesh Kumar Singh added, “If the money goes in bulk to them, it’ll be quite threatening to the internal security of the nation”.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has clarified in Mumbai on October 11, 2009, that, “there was no particular evidence or intelligence that Naxal (Left Wing Extremist) groups received funding from abroad,” though he added, “rumours are always afloat”. Similarly, answering a question regarding possible foreign and other sources of Maoist funding, Minister of State in the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) Ajay Maken told Parliament on November 24, 2009, “there is no input to indicate that CPI-Maoist is receiving funds from any foreign country. The Naxalites mainly raise funds from contractors and businessmen by imposing levy, by extortion and also by looting banks”.
On the expenditure side, Police sources reveal, the Maoists spent over INR 1.75 billion in 2007 for the purchase of weapons, including AK-47s, landmines and rocket launchers. According to the Police, an Australian arms dealer had struck a deal with the Maoists to supply a record 200 AK-47s by the end of 2008, via the Malaysia-West Bengal drug route. Vehicles, uniforms and medicines are another major component of expenditure. The Maoists have acquired motor cycles with special tyres to make travel easier in dense forests and tough terrain. Publicity and propaganda is another major head on which the Maoists spend considerably. Besides maintaining websites, publishing party magazines Awam-e-jung (Hindi) and CPI-Maoist (English), they also operate a low frequency radio in the jungles to campaign against the Police and the administration. The Maoists also spent huge sums on communication equipment, and mobile and satellite phones are common issue. The
Raipur Police raided an urban Maoist network centre and seized account books for collection and disbursal of INR 50 million. The raid yielded receipts for purchase of uniforms for nearly six battalions, supplied by a Mumbai-based textile unit.
Disclosing details, DGP Vishwa Ranjan adds, “around 20 per cent of the amount extorted is siphoned off by grassroots Maoist cadres, who pass on the remaining 80 per cent to the top leadership of the banned Communist Party of India – Maoist. The CPI-Maoist uses the extortion amount for smuggling ammunition even from some foreign countries, party meetings, boosting urban network and to care for a vast publication section, including a set of experts who manage the Maoist website, plus funding its legal cell that takes care of court cases against thousands of jailed Maoists across the country”.
Buoyed by their inflated coffers, the Maoists are attempting to attract more unemployed youth into their ‘armed struggle’, paying out INR 3,000 to each cadre as salary, and a cut in the monies extorted. Such monetary incentives have led to many unemployed youngsters hailing from backward areas in the Naxal-hit States joining the movement, officials say. One Home Ministry official stated, “It is a matter of concern. Acute poverty, coupled with lack of job opportunities, is turning many youths to Naxalism. They get Rs 3,000 as monthly remuneration and a cut of the extortion money they collect.”
In an effort to design a comprehensive response to Maoist finance networks, a source in the MHA revealed, on the condition of anonymity, “The Government is developing innovative measures to control Naxal funding based on the specific situation in the states and on the local level. Naxals extort money from contractors. Therefore instead of giving large amounts to big contractors, it is being distributed and directly given to Self Help Groups [SHGs] for development work. Abolishing the contract system in minor forest produce collection and marketing is another such measure implemented to check extortion of tendu leaf contractors. In some locations, Police and security force engineers are constructing roads, instead of contractors.” However, he added, it was difficult to deal with the situation because people generally do not come forward to register First Information Reports (FIRs) against Maoist extortion due to their fear for life.
The Union Government has also decided to set up a ‘centralised database’ to check terror funding by integrating intelligence from different central security agencies. Sources in the Union Home Ministry disclosed that the proposed database would act as a ready reckoner for different security and law and order enforcement agencies to check illegal routing of money through various financial channels meant to further organised crime and support anti-national activities. They said the databank would be created to detect illegal money movement within and outside the country and among particular groups or institutions by means of banks or other intermediaries. There is presently no such consolidated databank for collecting and disseminating intelligence which, at times, creates problem for the government in tracing and interdicting terror funding. The databank would be created by the Financial Intelligence Unit-India (FIU-IND) a national agency responsible for receiving, processing, analysing and disseminating information relating to suspect financial transactions.
The Union Government, meanwhile, has frozen 18 bank accounts found involved in terror financing under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. Also, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has registered around 30 cases across India over the preceding three months against terrorists on charges of money laundering and waging war against the country, according to a February 3, 2010 report. Though these actions have targeted other terrorist groups, and not the Maoists, a similar drive against Maoist finance networks is an evident imperative.
Union Home Minister P Chidambaram has declared, “we must meet the challenge to fight against Maoists and terrorism in the next two to three years.” Success in this enterprise will depend enormously on dismantling the resource generation networks of the Maoists, which have allowed the movement to persist and thrive. Courtesy: SAIR
By Ajit Kumar Singh & Sachin Bansidhar Diwan
Chidambaram has vowed to defeat the Maoists within three years by deploying thousands of paramilitary forces to assist state police in Operation Green Hunt, the first nationwide campaign against the rebels. But that is not enough. The critics say that the campaign is doomed by a chronic lack of training, equipment, personnel and reliable intelligence.
Maoists have plans to overthrow the Indian democracy through their armed struggle and want to control the government by 2050, Home Secretary Gopal K Pillai said recently. Addressing a seminar on “Left Wing Extremism Situation in India” at New Delhi-based Institute of defence Studies and Analyses, Pillai said the Maoists might be getting the help of some former soldiers in carrying out subversive activities.
“The overthrow of the Indian State is not something they are willing to do tomorrow or the day after. Their strategy, according to a booklet they circulated, is that they are looking for at 2050, some documents say in 2060,” he said. According to Pillai, Naxals were not looking at to overthrow the Indian State in 2012 or 2013, it was a long steady plan and in the past 10 years they slowly build up the movement. Now they can bring many sectors of Indian economy into their knees.
In an attempt to attract more unemployed youths into their armed fight, the Maoists have started shelling out Rs 3,000 to each of their cadre as salary and a cut of the extortion money.
The strategy of the Maoist leadership to give monetary incentives to the cadres has led to many unemployed youngsters hailing from backward areas in the Naxal-hit states joining the movement, officials say. “It is a matter of concern. Acute poverty coupled with lack of job opportunities is turning many youths to Maoism. They get Rs 3,000 as monthly remuneration and a cut of the extortion money they collect,” a Home Ministry official said.
It is calculated that the Maoists the extremists extort money to the tune of Rs 1,400 crore annually as they operate in mineral-rich areas where hundreds of industries are located. Due to fear of attacks and in return of security from the Maoists, many of the industries, businessman, contractors and even some government officials in the Maoist-affected territories give extortion money to them
Since 2006, when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh described the Maoist insurgency as the “single biggest internal-security challenge” India had ever faced, it has spread rapidly. Maoist guerrillas are now active in over a third of India’s 626 districts, with 90 seeing “consistent violence”. Last year the conflict claimed 998 lives.
At the same time, however, there is no denying the fact that the right approach is to focus on improving both policing and general administration. Better policing would protect poor people from Naxalite bandits and extortionists. Better local administration, providing roads, water, schools and health care, would give a stake in the Indian State to people who at present have none. It would be a huge task anywhere in India, and especially in areas plagued by Naxalites/Maoists.
But this is no excuse not to apply force decisively to defeat the Maoists who have launched a war against the nation. In fact, unless this war is concluded in favour of the Indian State, there cannot be any developmental and welfare activities in the Maoist controlled areas. After all, the Maoists are the biggest enemies of the tribals and other downtrodden, for if the later rise in the socio-economic ladder, Maoism will lose its raison d’être.
By Sachin Kaushik
GREEN HUNT SPLATTERED WITH RED
The ambush on 6 April by the Maoists at Jagdalpur in Chhatisgarh killing 76 security personnel and their firing on CRPF on 7 April brings back a number of questions being discussed repeatedly for the past two decades, or more, in the public domain. Who do the Maoists represent and with what legitimacy? Does their rebellion and armed struggle for a perceived revolution in India’s liberal democracy, howsoever imperfect it may be, serves the objective of justice for the exploited poor, the people they claim to represent? Would this ‘revolution’ based on an ideology that has been dumped even by Mao’s own country succeed in bringing succour to India’s exploited millions? Then for whom are they carrying on this war which is splashed with blood of thousands of innocents, those who have been maimed by brutal kangaroo courts are not part of this figure?
The media headlines rightly putting back the human rights ball in the Maoists’ court, have also had a dig at the human rights community in particular and intellectuals in general for ‘supporting’ the Maoist cause from air-conditioned seminar rooms, which in fact is a generalisation carried too far. In fact, ever since the beginning of the operation green hunt the government has been having a dig at the intellectual support to the Maoists. That, however, has not had any impact either on the government’s plans, or on the Maoists who have carried on with their ‘nowhere revolution’ (I have used this characterisation for Maoism in my two articles on August 12, 2006 and October 31, 2009 in the Mainstream, for which I was chided by a prominent Marxist social scientist popular both in the human rights and government circuits) with utter disregard for human lives and democratic values. Though Maoism, euphemistically called Naxalism, has been under discussion for more than two decades after its third phase post-Naxalbari and the fourth phase since the merger of prominent Maoist groups in 2003, it is necessary critically examine the basics.
Since I have ‘safely’ and ‘genuinely’ begun by questioning the ideology, intention, objective and democratic intentions of the Maoists, as a citizen of India, more than as a social scientist, let me raise questions for India’s liberal democratic state, the government I vote for every five years (if they do not thrust another election on us mid term) and the parties (their leaders included) that compete to grab power with ‘people’s mandate’. I will again come back to the Maoists. India’s revolutionary politics is older than Indian independence it began in Telangana (which is struggling for statehood) region in 1944 led by the Communist Party of India. Withdrawn in 1951 at Stalin’s diktat, it laid bare iniquitous land relations and highly exploitative and humiliating dominance structures, which were partly taken care of by the independent state with force and land reforms and partly by bhoodan movement, which Sarvodaya leader Acharya Vinoba Bhave began from there to attempt voluntary land redistribution.
But the movement travelled from Andhra Pradesh (that is what the region became after 1956 states’ reorganisation) to West Bengal; available studies confirm this ideological and strategic journey; to conditions that were similar. There too following the ‘spring thunder’ of 1967, the problem was ‘controlled’ partly by land reforms under the communist leadership (which split in 1969), but largely by brute force. Interestingly, the Naxalbari movement weakened before being crushed due to land reforms and Charu Mazumdar perceptively observed on this as early as 1967:
…wherever there have been movements on vested land, the peasant who gets the possession of the vested land and the license to occupy it, does not remain active any longer in the peasant movement.
…within a year (of the possession of the land), the class character of the poor peasant changes and he becomes a middle peasant. He no longer shares the economic demand of the poor and landless peasant. Thus, economism drives a wedge in the unity of the fighting peasants and plunges the landless and poor peasants in despondency.
Why is it then that the Indian state did slip into a prolonged four-decade slumber to allow the revolutionary politics to crop in Srikakulam in the late 1960s,
consolidate in different parts of Andhra Pradesh during 1980s and travel to other parts of the country during the 1990s, consolidate with mergers at the beginning of the millennium to acquire a monstrous stature spreading to over 20 states and one-third of the districts?
Howsoever we may dislike to engage in such analyses because the ‘menace’ is knocking at our doors, mocking at India’s internal security structure and blowing people to smithereens, these questions are relevant to be raised and answered because force has not ended Maoism despite three delusions. In between not only have the Maoists had a go at parliamentary electoral politics; they have been sought by mainstream politicians of all banners and hues for their consolidation in local politics and electoral victory. Small gains for our myopic politicians have cost the Indian state with big and substantial gains for the Maoists.
With the Union Home Minister, who only three months back had proposed an internal security architecture for the country (I commented on it in these columns on January 23, 2010), contemplating air strike; things appear horribly wrong with the country’s basic internal security system and the Minister who was brought on the hot seat for fire fighting following 26/11 is running out of ideas. I will stick my neck out even at this stage to argue against the proponents of fire fighting, for this pushes introspection like dirt under the carpet. The Indian state has been remiss in police reforms since independence and the organisation has become incapacitated even to perform normal law and order functions. Obviously, with public order problems growing bigger to intermesh with national security, the police (I insist!) have to be prepared for the challenge and the beginning which should have been made day before yesterday, must begin now. Restricting ourselves only to the Maoist challenge, how many times we have had warning signals that we ignored? In the mid-1990s the PWG mined the periphery of a police station in Andhra Pradesh before attack; the fleeing policemen were blown to smithereens. In 2005 the Naxals attacked Jahanabad (Bihar) jail and freed over 300 inmates. There are examples galore, but did it make the Indian state any wiser?
The Jagdalpur mayhem has been attributed also to intelligence failure and unfamiliarity of the CRPF with the terrain. Traditionally this is the job of the police, which is inefficient, incompetent, corrupt, politicised and kicked around like football (remember use of this phrase by Chidambaram himself) with no security of tenure in any posting. It is possible to use the brutest force the Indian state can employ to crush the present state of Maoist rebellion. But what is the guarantee that it will not rise again as it did in 1967 and several times over in the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s and in the present century.
We need to ask this question for two reasons. First, a look at the so called red corridor reveals that Maoist rebellion is concentrated in resource (forest, mine, et al) rich region of the country, which is primarily inhabited by adivasis. While the need for greater utilisation of resources is increasing, there are new players, more organised with the backing of the state leading to greater exploitation. Without using the puerile argument that poverty everywhere does not everywhere lead to rebellion of the Maoist kind, we need to learn lessons from the current texture of Maoism. Beyond demonising the ideologues of the Maoist movement, we should quiz as to what drives educated middle class persons, who are capable of a cushy job, to rebellion. Further, the exploited disaffection that becomes an oasis of revolutionary politics deserves to be attended on an emergency basis.
The Maoists have indeed declared war against the Indian state. Despite the concerns of the human rights community for collateral damage, which must be avoided at any cost, this war will have to be fought. We should appreciate the fact that so far only central para military forces have been used and the use of defence forces has been avoided. It must be avoided, whatever the cost. However, this war has to be fought on several fronts and won. The Indian state the Union Government, the governments of the states and political parties in India’s democratic arena have to go beyond partisanship and deal with this multifaceted problem with a multifaceted approach that must begin now!
The author is Director, Centre for Public Affairs.
By Ajay K Mehra
THE REAL SUFFERERS
In the spring season; trees, plants and herbs turn into greenery with new lovely leaves. It looks like a resurrection of the forest after the autumn. It is one of the most beautiful seasons for birds, animals and insects, and of course, for the adivasis, which is the beginning of their marriage with the nature. The adivasis begin to collect flowers, fruits and other forest produces for sustaining their community, which is completely based on the natural resources with the unique features of community living, caring-sharing, equality for all, justice and the need based economic system. The most interesting thing is, it is the spring season when the adivasis offer their thanks to their God, celebrate together and begin their new journey with the nature.
According to the Santal tradition, the first flower of the season is offered to the God then only the community members are allowed to collect any kind of new forest produces. They jointly offer the first flower to their God in ‘Baha Parap’ (the festival of flower). Similarly, the Oraon celebrate ‘Khadi’ also known as ‘Sarhul’. The thanks giving tradition is found among all the adivasi groups. Unfortunately, it was out of imagination for many of them this time. The India’s Home Minister P Chidambaram’s gunmen (security forces) involved in the so-called ‘Operation Green Hunt’ did not allow them to celebrate their auspicious festivals (Baha and Sarhul) in those villages, where the operation is being carried out. They were prevented from offering their thanks to the God, they were stopped dancing together and they were also forbidden from having the community feast. What kind of operation is it?
Can one imagine what would have happened if the security forces would not have allowed the Hindus to celebrate the Ramnaumi, prevented the Muslims from organising a procession in the Muharam and stopped the Christians to conduct the Easter Mass? Perhaps, there would have been some kind of communal riot, communal tension or at least the issue would have been made the national one. But no one knows about how the adivasis were denied to practice their old age tradition and culture by the security forces as the so-called fourth realm (Media) of the democracy does not bother to report about it. The adivasis were deprived of their cultural rights in their own country in the name of cleansing the Maoists, which state sees as the biggest threat to the investment climate in the country.
The story does not end here. The villagers’ freedom is seized; they are questioned, inquired and prevented from access to necessary commodities. They are being watched everywhere by the security forces. Those adivasis living in the top of the hill (the Indian state loves to call them as “primitive” and maintains the status-quo) are mostly affected in the process. They have stopped collecting the forest produces, the only livelihood resources left for them in the forests. They are not going out of their houses in fear of the security forces and some of them have even migrated to the secured places. This kind of painful stories can be heard across the state, where the operations are going on since March 10.
In the changing circumstances, the security forces have captured some of the rural markets after capturing schools, water sources and forests. For instance, the villagers of Rania block in Khunti district, where the Arcellor Mittal has proposed a 12 metric tonne (MT) steel plant, are not allowed to buy things according to their will. The security forces are preventing them from buying more eatables assuming that the extra food would be given to the Maoists. The Operation Green Hunt has badly hit the rural markets in Jharkhand. The forest based communities have stopped the collection of forest produces. As a result, the only few people can be seen in the rural markets. Indeed, it is very clear that the villagers have nothing to sell and buy in the markets therefore; there is a rapid fall in villagers’ turnout to the rural markets, which directly means the severe attack on the rural economy, when the villagers are already in an economic crisis due to the price rise of the necessary commodities.
Consequently, there is a huge livelihood crisis in those areas where the operation green hunt is being carried out. The crisis will rapidly grow as the forest based communities are losing the prime economic season as they are not being allowed to collect the forest produces (Mahua flower, Chiranji and Tendu leaf), which sustain them at least for the six months. The interesting question is why the security forces are creating livelihood crisis in the so-called red corridor instead of going for an assault against the Maoists as it is told to us by the state?
One should go to the state of Chhatisgarh to understand the core objective of it. The adivasis of 644 villages have migrated to other places and now the corporate sharks – Tata, Jindal and Bhushan steel are attempting to establish their projects in those villages. Since, Jharkhand is known as a glorious state of adivasi resistance, where even the Britishers lost the game therefore the Indian State is very much cautious about it and using the strategy of creating fear, insecurity and uncertainly instead of bombing those areas so that the adivasis would leave their villages and migrate to the other States similar to what has been happening in Chhatisgarh. The Indian state envisages for creating the similar situation in Jharkhand so that there would be no one left to oppose the proposed mega steel plants, power projects and mining industries in the so-called red corridor.
Though the adivasis are the original settler of the land but the globalisation has entirely changed the meaning of adivasi. Now, the word adivasi is being used as a synonym of ‘Naxalite’ and ‘Maoist’. Therefore, anyone who opposes the so-called development project, collects firewood in the forest and roams with the traditional weapon is suspected as Maoist or at least their supporter or sympathiser. There was a similar situation created for the Muslims, when each and every Muslim wearing the traditional dress was assumed as a terrorist. Amidst, there is also an attempt made by the state and the media for manufacturing the consent that the every mass resistance against displacement is Maoists supported, which directly means the adivasis cannot fight for themselves. Of course, it is ridiculous because there is a glorious history of the adivasis’ resistance against the injustice in Jharkhand.
The questions arise in one’s mind is, does the constitution of India allow the state to deny the rights of its own people in the name of the national security? Who has empowered the security forces to continue their inhuman practices with the people? Will the security forces do the same thing with the corporate sharks? Why does the state not take any action against those corporate sharks, which have violated the laws of the land, denied rights to the people and indulged in the criminal activities? And how long should we tolerate it?
However, the only aim of the so-called Operation Green Hunt is to convert the so-called “red corridor” into the “corporate corridor”. The Indian state’s hue and cry on Maoism or Naxalism is just a strategy to make sure the backdoor entry of the corporate houses in the mineral corridor. Though we are not yet told about how many Maoists are killed in the Operation Green Hunt but the CEO of the Operation Green Hunt, P Chidambaram is confident enough of cleaning the Maoists by 2013. Therefore, I’m sure, when the corporate sharks could be able to enter into the mineral corridor, the issue of Maoism or Naxalism would be marginalised that day itself from the agenda of the state. Isn’t it? However, the question yet to be answered is how long the adivasis have to pay the price for the national interest, the national security and the national development?
By Gladson Dungdung