Problem of Maoist Insurgency
Maybe when this article is read,an innocent tribal or a compelled jawan is ‘unreportedly’ being killed on the fringes of national mainstream by a so-called ‘maoist’. “Naxalism:single biggest internal security threat” screamed The Economic Times on 14th April,2006. And the threat has just got bigger. Our Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram drew lots of flak for ‘Operation Green Hunt’. Recently,our President Pratibha Patilhas urged the naxalites to shun violence and resort to talks.
But one Question that comes to mind is “what prompted the Maoist uprising? (even Derek O’Brien was confronted wid the question when he visited the IIM-C recently). The basis of the answer may lie with the ‘Green Revolution’. It brought fruits to farmers,but only in some pockets of India. The rest of India has witnessed some violent uprisings against the state. But the naxalite problem has deeper roots. Poverty,land alienation,lack of access to basic forest resources,largescale unemployment and exclusion from national mainstream are the common grievances among the rural population in east and central India.Despite being the most mineral-rich states in India,Chhatisgarh,Jharkhand,Orissa and West Bengal count among the poorest.
Area| India| Chhatisgarh| Jharkhand| Orissa| West Bengal| Per-Capita Income| `24,295| `16,740| `15,303| `16,149| `23,229| Table showing per-capita income of Chhatisgarh,Jharkhand,Orissa and West Bengal in comparision with India. It is these resources and the irrational attitude of Indian Federal System towards them that forms the core of dissent among people here.For instance,tribals in mineral-rich Bastar in Chhatisgarh do not get a fair share of the resources from miningin the forests that they inhabit. The ‘freight equalization policy’ of the government hampered these states from translating their natural resources’ advantage into industrial growth. ,and led to the Central Govt. Pocketing the lion’s share of royalties from mining. The complete failure of instruments like the ‘Panchayat(Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act,1996 and the Forest(Conservation) Act,1980 in these areas have only aggravated the problem.
So,for the adivasis,Sarkar is exploiter in the form of forest officials who deny them entry into the forest,the police who demanded bribes and state-sponsored contractors who paid less than the minimum wage. The exploitation by the landlords and mahajans ,and lack of basic amenities of human existence only flare up the problem. Ajit Buxla,maoist leader,correctly points out, “When you see death taking tolls on your near and dear ones and you know their life could have been saved had they been given proper and timely medication,you are forced to believe that the existence of state has nothing to do with tha life of poor & maginalized. ENTER THE MAOISTS. treading on the Marxism-Leninism theoretical lineage of ‘annihilation of class enemies’,the naxalites strategically take Maoism lineage against the state. “The Communist Party of India-Maoist(CPI-Maoist)”,formed on September 21,2004,was quick to notice that the causes of dissent was different in different states,and cashing in on the emotions of the local people,they staged violent uprisings. Over 600 lives have been lost in the militia’s process of forming ‘the Red Corridor’ or ‘Compact Revolutionary Zone(CZR)’.
Though the naxalites have been more or less ousted from Andhra Pradesh,the three-fold-layer strategy of the maoist insurgency has led to the rebels gaining control of more ares. The sources of funding of the naxalites are extortion of ransoms,cultivating opium in Malkangiri district,charging the traders and buisnessmen who pass through the ‘Red Corridor’,and producing and smuggling enormous quantity of marijuana. But slowly,this movement ‘for the people’ has turned ‘against the people’.The tribals are being victims of human rights’ violations,such as,murder of all kinds,tortures,outrages upon personal dignity,extortions,etc. moreover,the rebels have interfered,challenged and destroyed the age-old social taboos of the tribals which is leading to growing resentment among the locals against them. As it is clear,no one-size-fits-all solution can be applied for this intuiging problem. The very root of the problem has to be axed through,& that too in a sensible manner.
Mere military engagement of the maoist insurgents wont solve the problem. It will only joepardise the locals even more. Creation of civilian militas like ‘Salwa Judum’ should be shunned as they expose civilians to unnecessary danger,and only translate into abdication of security responsibility by the state. The State should provide security guarantees against retribution by cadres of the naxalites and should use the knowhow of such cadres in informative strategies against the rebels.The civil society representatives such as eminent personalities,political leaders,NGO’s should step-in as mediators between the state and the maoists. But most importantly,the grievances that increase the appeal of the maoists should be mitigated. There should be direct effort for development in these areas.
The locals should be given employment and conditional cash transfers that counter the widespread deprivation in the region,thus,reducing the ‘recruitment-pool’ of the maoists.Investments shoul be made in social-overheads which would allow the locals easy access to the urban marketswhere they can sell their dairy products and forest-related products like cashew,chironji,lac,etc which have high market-value. The tribals should be empowered through education and a self-sustaining economic scheme,funded largely by mining revenues of the state,can be implemented to provide skills,literacy,healthcare,and above all,dignity and social justice to the people. As D. Bandopadhyay. retired-IAS officer experienced in dealing with naxalites in West Bengal in the 70’s,puts it, “Naxalism has emerged as a result of deficit in planning;constant alienation has made people take up arms,and its time one understands the problem as not just a law & order problem,but one that’s foundations are socio-economic. ” India cannot afford a “lost generation” in the insurgency-affected areas even as it takes rapid steps towards becoming a global economic power.
Ending the maoist insurgency needs to be a national priority.Else till then the voice of Koteshwar Rao(nom de guerre Kishanji) would continue to ring alarm bells inside startled ministers & common folk. The authorities would not be making the rules… he would.References:- (1) “35-yr old tribal killed by Maoists”, The Deccan Chronicle, 19th January 2008.
(2) “Maoists slay three tribals in Chhatisgarh”, Thaindian News, 21st March,2008. Sources:- (1) “India Research Group. ” (2) “Down To Earth. ” (3) “Institute of South Asian Studies,Roundtable Session(ISAS)”,14th March,2007. (4) “International Relations and Security Network(ISN)”,ETH Zurich.