What Can The Maoists “Talk” About?
Shall the Indian Maoists talk to the authorities? That too after the sudden demise of their erudite spokesperson Cherukuri Rajkumar alias Azad in an alleged ‘fake encounter’? These are the questions which are doing the rounds in academic, media as well as political circles since the reports of Azad’s death surfaced in the first week of July.
In a letter to Swami Agnivesh, who is acting as a mediator for the envisaged ‘talks’ between the Maoists and the Home Ministry; Azad had stated his party’s intentions of holding talks with the government.
However, he was skeptical regarding the comportment of the union government. He felt that the Home Ministry was probably trying to create a veneer of ‘talks’ and was not at all serious about it.
Well, there are counter-allegations as well from New Delhi regarding the non-serious approach of the Communist Party of India Maoist (CPI-M) toward settling the ongoing bloodshed through deliberations. Now the matter of concern is whether a set of talks is really possible between a banned outfit and the state? And if this is in the affirmative, then what can be the agenda of such talks?
Looking at the past, it would be natural for one to predict the futility of holding discussions with the CPI-M. The Andhra Pradesh government had gone ahead to have round table conferences with them but to no avail. Finally, terror was met with terror and that in essence obliterated the militants from the province.
Actually the problem has a broader breadth and runs deep. The fundamental ideology of Maoism rests on a protracted people’s war in order to topple the so-called ‘reactionary bourgeoisie regime’. Similar movements, launched in Cuba under Castro-Guevara combo, in Nicaragua under the Sandinistas or in Peru under Guzman have all done exactly the same: followed the prototype model of the Chinese Revolution of Mao Zedong. Whether all these movements have been fully successful or not, is not the point of debate, but the fact of the matter remains is that these insurgencies followed a set, well-planned model of “people’s war” under the ambit of guerilla tactics.
And forget about manifesto; holding talks was never even in their agenda.
Only the Nepalese Maoists deviated to an extent by joining mainstream politics. However, that is held to be the ‘Prachanda Path’ and their Indian counterparts are still to accept it unequivocally. Moreover, Prachanda had a solid reason to abjure arms temporarily and join national politics. That was necessarily a “tactical alliance” by the Nepalese Maoists with the parliamentary parties in order to effect a strategic victory of capturing power at Kathmandu. The common enemy of all the parties at that juncture was the monarch and hence that ‘tactical alliance’ was meaningful.
Whereas in the Indian context, at present the Maoists have no ‘tactical partners’ in the mainstream political fray. Hence, they cannot even contemplate to forge such an alliance. Oil price hike, inflation and Indian camaraderie with the Western Hemisphere can still be relevant issues of commonality among the different communist parties (say the Communist Party of India-Marxists) and the Maoists, but that cannot be the mainstay of their friendship; more so when each is killing other’s comrades.
Hence, what at best the Maoists can do by accepting the ‘offer for talks’ is to utilise the interregnum to bolster their party infrastructure and acquire some breathing space as well as time. Furthermore, a ceasefire would give the rank and file of the ultras to regroup. But this argument holds good for the government too as had been pointed out by this writer in this same forum (The Bad War, May 08, 2010). Moreover, a mutual ceasefire would not only be beneficial to both the parties, but also bring succour to the adivasis who are caught in the crossfire.
Nevertheless, peace albeit for a brief period of time seems hard to come by. And that is due not only to the intransigence of the ultras but also due to fluctuating policies of the authorities. The Home Ministry ought to have clarified its stance in a much more categorical manner. What exactly did it mean by “the Maoists to lay down arms”? Did they mean a mutual ceasefire? And since that exactly was the point of disagreement, the government could have taken a bolder step by declaring a unilateral ceasefire and given the insurgents a time of the so-called 72 hrs to accede to that ceasefire. It would have been interpreted as largesse on the part of the ministry and surely could have elevated its public image.
It can be well agreed that the ultras have their own set of demands. They want the release of their top leaders like Kobad Ghandy who are languishing in prisons. On this count, it is worthwhile to mention that the Maoists are also not very clear about their ‘pre-conditions’. CPI-M general secretary Ganapathy had put in place three demands as prerequisite for talks with the government. One among those was lifting the ban on the party and its mass organisation wings. The other one was the release of their comrades.
Later on, spokesperson Azad had clarified the prisoner release agenda. He in fact had diluted Ganapathy’s original staunch line and interpreted that demand to be a part of the talks; that is, leaders and other prisoners may be released as the talks proceeded toward a fruitful direction.
Hence, it is clear that there are conditions and pre-conditions of going ahead with the talks from both the sides and none of the incumbents till date have really expressed their proclivity toward any amicable settlement of the dispute.
Furthermore, the death of Azad and now the death of Raghu Singh, a key Salwa Judum leader in Chhattisgarh mean that violence would go on unabated. Mediation by the civil society may not go in vain but is yet to extract anything meaningful in terms of peace in the red corridor.
In this light, a hypothetical situation may be framed. Suppose if at all the ultras sit with the authorities, what can be their topic of discussion? The ministry’s interlocutors would surely try to persuade them to give up arms and buy as much time as possible. In the meantime, police and the paramilitary shall try to enhance their intelligence network. Thus, the Andhra Model of Talks would be followed by the authorities. On the other hand, the Maoists would press the government to release some of their politburo members on the pretext of carrying on the talks as their other leaders are underground due to the ban imposed on the party. Hence both would create a façade of ‘gentlemanship’ and try to ensure tactical victories.
It must be borne in mind that nobody, be it Karl Marx, or Vladimir Lenin or Mao Zedong, on whose theoretical principles the CPI-M bases itself, talk of talks. They strictly abhor partnering with the bourgeoisie regime. They speak of overthrowing the existing parliamentary democracy. They hate revisionism.
And the present Maoist leadership idolises the Great Cultural Proletarian Revolution of 1966 by Mao Zedong. They despise the deviationist line adopted by Deng Xiao Ping, the maker of modern China which espouses state controlled capitalism.
BLUEPRINT TO TACKLE THE MAOISTS
Confronted with the Maoist menace, civil administration’s incompetence is making mountain out of a molehill by suggesting induction of the military.
The threat posed by the Maoists to the Union cannot be compared to the LoC in Kashmir or the Northeast. On borders, there is direct support of the external players. Both, in terms of creeping invasion by Islamic fundamentalists that results in demographic changes, as well as, to infiltrate fundamentalists to equip and train the local sympathisers to subvert the civil administration. Couple this with the military threat posed by China and Pakistan directly. If the military dilutes its vigil on the volatile borders, Union of India will soon lose major chunks of its territory.
This constitutes the primary role of the army.
The clamour by many to bring in the Army and the Air Force to resolve the Maoist threat ignores the key question: Is the threat posed gigantic enough to warrant deployment of the Army? Or is the civil administration creating mountain out of the molehill because its level of incompetence is now beyond redemption?
The schedule and the resources required to host the Commonwealth Games by India were well considered at the time of bidding for the games. With barely 60 days left, we are not prepared. There was no threat posed by the Maoists, the Northeast insurgents or the terrorists to disrupt the preparations. Yet, the civil administration flounders despite a well-defined objective and demands induction of 300 military personnel.
The same incompetence is visible in other aspects of the civil administration. Millions of ton of wheat procured at the taxpayer’s expense for the distribution to the poor segment of society was allowed to rot in the rains. A state within the Union creates ‘counter insurgency’ school for the police without basic facilities like firing range and skilled officers to train personnel. Two courses pass out and declared ready to take on the Maoists! If the CRPF or the state police personnel remain unskilled, untrained and underequipped, and led by ‘incompetence’, causalities are bound to be high.
There are no bad units, only bad officers!
The security threat posed by the Maoists to the Union is relatively small compared to the externally supported insurgency and terrorism faced by the Army in Kashmir and the Northeast. The known external support to the Maoists is very little, possibly because their activity is centered in the interior of India. They are more of a rag-tag bunch that largely fight with weapons looted from the police armory, or are country manufactured. Due to civil administration’s abdication of authority, they successfully manage to loot police stations for weapons, attack jails and free inmates and run armament factories. These concessions conceded under duress amounts to dereliction of duty by the civil administration.
In the military such negligence will invite immediate court martial.
The Maoist threat rated as ‘biggest’ to the Union is not because the Maoists are better armed and financed than the jihad factory on our borders but due to the threat posed from within that disrupts the growth of the nation. A family or a nation that lacks harmony within is incapable of handling external threats. In somewhat similar circumstances, the Chinese conquered Tibet and the Maoists are poised to capture Nepal. With the American-led Western Forces slated to withdraw from Afghanistan in July 2011, defence of India’s borders will demand extra military muscle. Nevertheless, India’s potential to outmaneuver both its adversaries is immense, provided the civil administration learns to govern efficiently.
In the first place, if the civil administration which implies “the executive” was moderately competent, delivered justice, was responsive and enforced ‘rule of law’, and did not allow the gradual slip of territories in to the hands of the miscreants, the problem would not have arisen. The state true to the prevalent culture of logic of convenience abdicated its responsibility by distributing arms to the locals to fend themselves in the garb of ‘Salwa Judum’. The common man, out of fear is forced to support the Maoists, in absence of protection from the legitimate local administration. The Maoists are made to look very tall due to the ineptitude and callousness of the administration. The poor generalship in 1962 by the military and the political leadership made the Chinese look very tall. The historical truism is that the Chinese have never won a war.
The second key question: In the near future, in addition, will we ask the Indian Army to take over the running of municipality, Commonwealth Games, health services, policing, or Kerala that is emerging as a terrorist hub, besides tackling the Maoists who almost control forty per cent of the Union’s territory? Or do we take strong corrective measures to set-right the civil administration, which is practically falling apart?
Our adversaries are aware that the Union of India is as strong or as weak as its Army. They will be delighted to see the Indian Army diverted from its primary external role to resolve the internal strife. Such diversion will help the forty-two terrorist training camps running in PoK to shift to Srinagar! In any case, army with huge shortage of officers is already in an overstretch and any further deployment against Maoists will result in an extraordinary strain.
Two beefed up Army divisions with integral air element is adequate to dismantle the Maoist infrastructure within one year. The civil administration projects it at seven years. This seven-time magnification is approximately the level of incompetence acquired since independence.
The third key question: After the Army brings the situation under control—what next?
Once the army in a short-time manages to restore the adverse situation, will the civil administration take over its responsibility to renew its writ and relieve the Army for the more urgent primary role? The idea behind the induction of the Indian Army in the Northeast and J&K was again to restore the adverse situation and thereby create conducive environment for the political process to start. This was an enabler, but the civil administration spurned the gains. The civil administration in Kashmir, and not the Army should carry out ‘sadbhawana’ movement. The Indian Army initially met many reverses, but persevered, and finally got on to ‘top-of-the-situation’. However, the civil administration till date fails to take charge. The end result is that the Indian Army finds itself in a quagmire. It is mired in a role that is not primary to it.
This is one of the many reasons as to why the army should not get deployed to resolve the Maoist problem spread over forty per cent of the land within. In such an eventuality the civil administration will never ever gear up to make itself competent, accountable and responsible for its primary task.
The only reason that would justify Army’s deployment is a scenario wherein the Maoist threaten to territorially split India from inside. Panic buttons are being pressed unnecessarily, due to a magnified illusion created out of sheer ineptitude. Luckily, time favours the civil administration to acquire and hone the essential skills to resolve the problem, since the menace largely has internal dimensions.
The final question: How to resolve or minimise the internal security threat to avoid a divided house while confronting the two front external threats?
The lopsided Indian pacifism may be good for an individual’s soul but has proved to be suicidal for the nation’s security. The wobbly civil administration for decades is on the withdrawal mode with its influence shrinking on the external periphery as well as within. They leave their posts in the interiors and hide behind fortifications preferably in the state capitals or in New Delhi. The Maoists or similar forces occupy the vacuum.
To overcome the ‘withdrawal’ culture of the state, there is the need to inject offensive orientation in the otherwise pacifist approach of the civil administration and the political class. This requires import of military thinking and skills to create the necessary administrative ability to positively influence and dominate the ground. Notwithstanding the bureaucracy’s apathy towards the armed forces, because of the burden of pacifism, such skills can only come from the military.
First, to reclaim the situation in favour of the state, the army should make the Maoist affected districts as the area of annual training at divisional level. Two division level exercise conducted for forty-five days each in turns, for a period of one year continuously, will make an enormous difference.
The army by its sheer presence will facilitate the civil administration in restoring the Union of India’s writ in the affected areas. Incase the military is fired upon, it will fire back to defend its assets and carry on with conduct of the exercise, without getting involved in the nitty-gritty of local administration. It may be underscored that between ‘existence of state’ and anarchy, military is the decisive instrument. Military power, therefore, needs to be employed intelligently and must be given a free hand to ruthlessly restore the writ of the state.
Military wherever deployed, keeps its eyes and ears glued to the ground to gather local intelligence for its own security. This intelligence can be shared with the civil administration to counter the Maoists. Army can very well dismantle the Maoist bases located inside the thick forest by its sheer presence while conducting military exercise.
Large-scale army exercises are hugely beneficial to the local economy. Moreover, it instills confidence in the local people and the administration.
From this very core where military exercises will be conducted, the paramilitary, the police, the district magistrate etc. can begin to restore the writ of the Union. The civil administration should expand outwards in the interior of the districts on the ‘hub and spoke’ principle.
Second, to simultaneously leverage the impact of the army presence, the civil administration should handpick a team of officers known for their integrity and the ability, to be inducted in the affected areas. The truth is that the army can only create an environment conducive to civil governance. If the bureaucracy cannot supervise, insurgency will reappear.
Third, militarisation of the Indian mind, particularly in the Civil administration to restore a balance between extreme form of pacifism and action is essential. BSF was raised by military officers initially and did well. The Assam Rifles (paramilitary) officered by Army is effective in the Northeast. It is the operational wing of the NSG, on direct deputation and officered by the Army that delivered in Mumbai 26/11. Therefore, the need to propagate military skills in the civil is essential. This will equip the civil administration to deal with the internal armed threats as also govern with efficiency. Whenever the civil set up choose to be militarised, it succeeded in neutralising the threat—KPS Gill during insurgency in Punjab and the Greyhound Commandos of Andhra police delivered.
The lateral induction of military personnel into the civil administration will benefit on multiple counts. First, it will keep the military young which is an operational necessity. Second, it will bring military skills and ethos in the IAS, IFS and police and paramilitary. The turf wars to keep the military authorities at bay by the civil set-up must stop, if they desire to ensure that the writ of the Union runs throughout the nation. Putting a retired major general in the advisory board of the unified command to tackle the Maoists is being neither here nor there!
The soldiers’ colour service in the Army should be reduced to ten years from seventeen and he should be inducted subsequently into the paramilitary and the police. This would keep the army young and beef up the skills in the civil.
The police and the paramilitary should get at least hundred new recruits from each state trained every year for the next five years at the nearest Army Regimental Training Centre along with the army recruits. Similarly, at least a hundred police, paramilitary and IPS officers should be trained with the officer cadets in the Officer Training Academy every year. This manpower should form the nucleus of the Armed Police Constabulary, both in the states and the centre in future.
In the short term, a Lt General, seconded to the Home Ministry from the Army, should head the CRPF. He must be allowed the freedom to induct retired military officers and soldiers on attractive terms of service to make the CRPF fighting fit on “war footing”. In pacifist India, unfortunately, decision-making on ‘war footing’ translates in to forming a committee an endless endeavour, followed by a GoM! We need to learn the art of ‘flat decision-making’ to face the internal and the external challenges. Quick, bold, fair and accurate decision-making is vital for the good health of the state.
The biggest threat to India today is by the Indians and not by the Chinese or the Pakistanis. Just, efficient and firm administration is the foremost necessity. Otherwise, India may soon become a replica of the failed state, Pakistan.
By Bharat Verma
The writer is Editor, Indian Defence Review.
Uptill now, militarily speaking, the civil war going on in the red corridor is a low intensity conflict. Hence, the policy makers are not really prone to any compromise at this juncture. Unless this conflict takes further ominous shapes, for instance, flows out of that geographical zone and engulfs the cities, the administration may not be really keen to effect a workable compromise with the rebels or even initiate such a process.
The author presumes that the Indian state is presently pursuing the policy of annihilation of the top brass of the Maoist leadership, either by imprisoning them and hence alienating them from their rank and file or by simply eliminating them physically. It has been a well tested policy of the 1970s when it worked quite well against then Naxalites. Azad at Adilabad and now Sidhu Soren at Jangalmahal were netted in that venture.
The present party structure of the CPI-M after the merger of People’s War Group and Maoist Communist Centre in 2004 is a far more organised and bolstered command hierarchy compared to their rudimentary formation of 1970s. Nonetheless, a jolt to the central command is something which shall test not only the enthusiasm of the foot soldiers but the ‘power of replenishment’ of the organisation.
The Indian government may as well follow another policy in hand with this annihilation regime. It is a wellknown fact that piecemeal legislative concessions bestowed upon a disgruntled populace can deviate a sizable quantum of the peripheral followers of a puritan armed movement. And that is exactly what the state should attempt to do: eat and wean away a sizable portion of the workers of the ultras; in this case the adivasis.
Though the ultras, on the other hand acknowledge the fact that they are militarily weak compared to the state forces; but that very fact impels them to carry forward with the guerilla warfare and slowly progress toward building a People’s force which would engage the state forces in a conventional war. That may take decades, however.
Nevertheless, the adivasis, the main pillar of strength of the CPI-M are no ideologues. They hardly can appreciate the literature of Marx, Lenin or Mao. Their ‘consciousness’ of revolting against the state is fuelled by not merely by inflammatory speeches by Ganapathy et al, but basically because of the callousness of the authorities. Lack of education, lack of penetration of the outside world, lack of empowerment and consequent alienation of these people are the nodal problems behind the present insurrection. This has happened since the colonial era and just went on undiminished.
THE OTHER SIDE
ENDLESS CRY IN THE RED CORRIDOR
After arrival of the monsoon, the city dwellers are enjoying the cool weather. The farmers are busy in preparation of their paddy fields and the rainy frogs are also enjoying their turn. However, the atmosphere in the red corridor is more or less the same as it was before with the full of anxiety, uncertainty, fear, pain and shock. Perhaps, one could hear the endless cry in the village like Sosokuti, which is a adivasi dominated village comprises of five hamlets Barulata, Hesahatu, Kochasindri, Sosohatu and Sosokuti situated in the middle of Balanda, Mosanga and Sosokuti forests in Arki block, which comes under Khunti district in Jharkhand. These forests are also known as the abodes of the Maoist Guerillas. Interestingly, Sosokuti is merely 75 kilometers far from Ranchi the capital city of Jharkhand however the state has completely failed to content the discontents. Consequently, the Indian State included the village in the part of the red corridor and a camp of the security forces was established in the primary school, at its neighbouring village Mosanga. Now both the parties the security forces and the Maoists have been exploiting the innocent villagers but they can do nothing except shouting, weeping and crying.
It is obvious that the security forces have terrorised the atmosphere in the villages. Frankly speaking, when a vehicle enters into a remote village, it becomes fun for the children. They start running behind the vehicle. However, the situation is just opposite in Sosokuti village. Whenever, a vehicle enters into the village, all the villagers including children, women and men run away to hide, shield and protect themselves. These days, the police visit to the village all most everyday and humiliate, beat and torture to the innocent villagers and also destroy their food and shelter. Therefore, they assume that each vehicle entering into their village belongs to the police. However, there is some special rule, which only few people know that if anyone blows the vehicle’s horn before entering into the village that means the vehicle does not belong to the police therefore the villagers have nothing to worry about. Once the vehicle enters into the village by blowing horn, the villagers’ gather nearby the vehicle immediately assuming that some one is there to hear them in the village. Once you start hearing them, all most everyone wants to tell you the painful, shameful and heartbreaking experiences, which they face almost everyday in the red corridor.
Creating livelihood crisis:
There are about 2500 people live in Sosokuti village, whose livelihood is based on agriculture, forest produces and daily wage. However, there is a huge livelihood crisis in the village after launching of the anti-Naxal operation widely known as the ‘operation green hunt’. Earlier, each and every family used to earn Rs 100 to 150 per day by selling firewood, leaf and other minor forest produces in the local markets. Now the villagers have stopped going to the forests in fear of losing their lives while collecting the forest produces. According to Sufal Muda of Sosokuti, who used to sell the firewood, the police exploit the villagers in the forest. He says, “Police can catch us, shoot and project it as a case of the encounter therefore we can not dare to roam in the forest”.
35-year-old Etwari Devi of Sosokuti village is a daily wage labourer lives in the village with her husband Arjun Lohra (40), mother-in-law Sokhi Devi (70) and 14-year-old son Rajan Lohra. Her family earns the livelihood through daily wage and selling of the firewood. Presently, she has been working in the road construction scheme under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA). On July 8, 2010, when she was busy in road construction, the security forces entered into her house after breaking the locked door, poured the cooked food (rice and vegetable) into the wood-burning stove and scattered the utensils. In the evening, when Etwari returned home with the hungry stomach, she was stunned to see the broken door, scattered utensils and spoiled food in her house. She says, “I knew that the police must have done this. However, I wanted to be confirmed therefore I asked my neighbour Ambika Devi who was present in the village when the incident took place, told me that the police had entered into my house.” Suddenly she became angry and says, “Ask the police to give us food, cloth and shelter we’ll desert the village if living in the village makes us the Maoists.” She questions, “The police torture us in the day and the Maoists in the night, what is our crime we want to know?”
A meaningless war between the state and the Maoists has terrorised the village atmosphere, which is resulting in migration of youth to the cities for ensuring their livelihood with the peace. Three youth of Kochasindri, which is a hamlet of Sosokuti village, migrated to Panjab where there was no such case of migration before. A brave woman of Kochasindri, Shanti Devi, who fights against the police torture says, “The police humiliate, exploit and torture the innocent villagers after branding them as the Maoists therefore the youth think that it is better to ensure livelihood from the outside of the village rather than facing the police torture while collecting the firewood in the forest.” She questions, “Why don’t the police go to the forests and fight with the Maoists instead of exploiting the innocent villagers?” Indeed, the villagers are facing the livelihood crisis, which will increase day by day and the failure of monsoon would just add fuel in the fire.
Happiness is a crime in the red corridor:
Can anyone be surprised to hear that the security forces do not want the villagers to lead joyful lives in the red corridor? The painful reality of Sosohatu another hamlet of Sosokuti village reveals the truth. 28-year-old Satnarayan Munda of Sosohatu and 20-year-old Basanti Kumari of Nawadih village of Tamar block got married on June 30, 2010. Thereafter, Satnarayan Munda returned to his village with his newly wedded wife Basanti and the villagers who were part of the marriage ceremony in Basanti’s village. There was a reception party in Satnarayan’s village on July 1, therefore the villagers and Satnarayan’s relatives had gathered in Satnarayan’s house. They did the reception rituals thereafter ate, drank and danced till the late night.
Meanwhile, the security forces assume the marriage function as a celebration party of the Maoists therefore they went to the village in hunt of the Maoists. It was 4 O’clock in the morning on July 2, nearly 150 security personals blocked Sosokuti from the every corner. Satnarayan Munda’s father Dhan Singh Munda was lying on the bed in his courtyard when a team of the security forces entered into his house and asked him, “Is it the party of the Maoist?” He was stunned to hear the question but replied humbly, “Today, there was a marriage function of my son”. Perhaps, the security forces didn’t believe in Munda’s words therefore they continued their operations for hunting the Maoists.
Suddenly, few policemen entered into a bedroom where Satnarayan and Basanti were spending their first night. Basanti states about the nightmare saying, “I was shocked to see the policemen entering into my bedroom without permission.” She questions, “Can any one do this? Who has given right to the police for taking away our personal freedom whenever and wherever they want?” The police dragged out Satnarayan Munda from his bedroom and severely beaten him in front of his wife. Basanti says, “My husband started vomiting and he fell down onto the ground. I asked the Police, “What is his crime?” They replied, “He is a Maoist.” After a few minutes, the policemen took him with them. “I don’t know what is his crime but of course, I know is, the police blocked my life before the beginning of a new adventure of my life”, She added and started weeping.
The police also arrested Dhan Singh Munda, Rekha Kumari, Sunita Kumari, Devilal Munda and another two villagers who were part of the wedding party alleging them of supporting the Maoists. Later on, the police released five of them but Satnarayan Munda and Rekha Kumari were sent to jail. Ironically, Satnarayan was booked in 17 CLA though the FIR claims that he we keeping the pamphlets of a banned Naxalite organisation and working for it but it doesn’t describe about arms. The interesting part is, the pamphlet which the police found from Satnarayan’s residence is issued by a forum called “Operation Green Hunt Virodhi Nagrik Manch”, which is headed by a pioneer Human Rights Activist Stan Swami and of course, the pamphlet is also drafted by him only. In fact the police have taken for guaranteed that the every party, function and marriage ceremony to be organised in the red corridor is of the Maoists. The million-dollar question is, do the villagers have no right to enjoy their lives? The villagers are between the sword and the sickle but where will they go in this situation? Who is there to hear their grievance? Do they have right to live with dignity too?
Dress code in the red corridor:
We have heard so many times about the dress code imposed on women by the fundamentalist groups, of course, which is counted under the purview of violation of the liberty of individual. However, anyone would be shocked to hear that the security forces have imposed (unofficially) the similar kind of dress code in the red corridor. Can you dare to wear a dress, which would be enough to brand you as a Maoist? 14-year-old Lalita Munda of Sosokuti village reveals about the terrible experience, which she had undergone and of course, there are many who undergo through the ordeal everyday.
Lalita left her school after death of her mother a few years back and now plays a role of her mother. On July 8, 2012, about 100 security force personnel arrived to her village in the afternoon when she was boiling the paddy grains so that she could make rice out of it and cook it later. The personnel entered into her house without permission (remember common men can not enter in the camps of the security force without permission but they can do anything with the power of gun). She heard a voice coming from outside of her house, “Take out her if she is in ‘salwar suit’ and leave her if she has worn school dress.” Fortunately, Munda had worn her old school dress, which protected her for the moment.
She says, “The security forces brand those girls as Maoists who wear salwar suit and take them to the police station, torture, molest and even rape them and finally put them behind the bars therefore we can not wear salwar suit.” After a few moments she gets angry and says, “If police want us to be naked, just tell us we’ll go naked. We’ll throw our clothes into bay if clothes make us the Maoists.” After seeing the rapid growth of anger, one should not be surprised if these girls and women of the red corridor decide to walk in the capital city of Jharkhand nakedly. ‘Are we ready for that?’ The Indian State must respond the question very seriously because the same villagers have given their mandate to protect their rights.
The peculiar thing about every village situated in the red corridor is, there are more or less the same terrible experiences of humiliation, torture, molestation, rape, and cold-blooded murder of the innocent villagers by the security forces deployed in the anti-Naxal operations. However, no one goes to the police station for filing a FIR against the perpetrators for the obvious reasons. If anyone dares to speak against them is coined as a Maoist and thrown them behind the bars. Xavier Soy of Shiyadih village comes under Kuchai block of Saraikela-Kharsawan district was thrown behind the bars for raising questions against the police atrocity. The superintendent of police (Khunti) Manoj Kaushik says, “The villagers speak against the police due to immense pressure from the Maoists, which is part of their strategy to use the villagers in their favour.” The pertinent question is why are the people not favouring the police? Is it only because of fear from the Maoist menace? Does it mean the villagers are voiceless? If so, it is a shame for the Indian democracy, which could not empower the villagers for last 63 years?
The most worrying factor is, the way discontent has been growing against the Indian State and the victimisation of the innocent villagers by the security forces is just multiplying the anger of the angry masses. The villagers are not against of the Maoists though they have also terrorised them but the villagers are going against the security forces. Therefore, one can only imagine what would happen if every discontent takes up the gun and joins the Maoist folk? In that case, the India State won’t be able to deal the situation. However, the India’s corporate Home Minister P Chidambaram has publicly claimed that he would be eliminating the Maoist menace within next three years by serving the development cola and organising the licensed killings in the red corridor. But the question may remain unanswered is: Will he wipe out the discontent of the villagers without addressing the issue of injustice?
By Gladson Dungdung
Apparently, it seems that holding talks with the present Maoist leadership and pursuing peace is like chasing a mirage. So what shall the state do? Shall it annihilate the top brass of the Maoists as was done in the case of Azad or Soren? Will that eat away the ideological aspect of the revolution and hence render it rudderless?
On a positive note, an implication of the policy of ‘annihilation’ by the state can be that the rank and file of the Maoists may get subjugated and give up arms as had happened with the Tamil movement in Sri Lanka. The other possibility can be that shun of ideological moorings, the cadres can go berserk and indulge in isolated acts of terrorism. Lumpen elements may spread wanton acts of terror. Moreover, what is the guarantee that elimination of the present leadership would not produce fresh minds? In fact, that has what has happened since the death of a Charu Mazumdar or a Kanhai Chatterjee.
Thus it may be suggested that ‘talks’ are the most viable option for both the parties, even at this juncture. A temporary peace in the red corridor shall usher in happiness to the adivasis. After all, they are our own ‘people’ and not the other.
By Uddipan Mukherjee