August 4, 2010

how many more need to die for the naxalism cause?

Two years back, the then Home Minnister said in a public meeting that Naxalism and Maoist violence had become a bigger menace than even terrorism. People, including papers, thought, the Minister was exaggerating things. One year later the Prime Minister had to echo what his cabinet minister had been saying.

In the last two years, a few hundred people - including security personnel, Maoists themselves and people at large - have died because of the Maoist related violence. The central and state governments have been toying with various ways of dealing with the scourge. There are a number of well-meaning thinkers who think that a permanent solution to the problem lies in development. Unfortunately, many of them seem to have become indoctrinated with this view to the extent that they do want only 'development' route and nothing else.

It is very sensible to say that the root cause of Naxalism and its spread is development not reaching remote areas of the country, especially the tribal areas. Together with it, there is wanton exploitation of natural resources without any benefits coming to the locals; there is huge leakage in the system that does not allow the governmental schemes to reach the target beneficiaries; there is police highhandedness and persecution. These ground realities, however, do go against the 'development only' or 'development first' argument. We will not be able to change the ground reality overnight even if we put the best bureaucarats in Naxalism affected areas, pump in funds and change the police forces lock stock and barrel. These things will take time.

So what we need is to try to reform the system and ensure through a focussed approach that the benefit of the governement schemes reach the needy. But that militates against the Maoist credo and their interests. So, they do not allow the legitimate machinery to function there. They want people to suffer so that their writ runs large. They kill CRPF and police forces to prove a point more than to fight 'oppression' and suppression by the security forces. So, it becomes imperative that a rule of law is established, however 'oppressive' it may look from a particular policical philosophical point of view.

The intelligentsia who support the Naxals have a duty to come out with practicable solutions that can be accepted within the limits of the Indian Constitution and laws. The Central Government and the concerned state governments have the duty to listen to all sane voices and find out a workable solution and also to see [even with a strong hand]that such solutions are implemented in letter and spirit. Politicians need to rise above petty partisan interests and join the governements in securing a just and lawful solution to the Naxal problem.

PS: Even as I was writing this piece, my phone got the alert that 8 CRPF jawans wewre killed by Naxals in Dantewara and 80 jawans are missing. Fierce fighting is going on.

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