Rohit Kumar's Views

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by Rohit Kumar

The Maoist insurgency in its North East is a massive problem for India. The Maoists fighting for control and supremacy are dominant in over 223 states and threaten to create a Red Corridor all the way to Nepal. The Maoists (Communist Party of India-Maoist or CPI-M) are targeting the soft vulnerable areas of India’s richest states and this is by no means a coincidence. India’s ‘Shining India’ image is tarnished by this reminder of grievances driven by poverty, discrimination, State oppression and a caste system that makes extremism an attractive option. The trouble in the North East ties in with the freedom struggle in Kashmir that is fuelled by state terrorism against the predominantly Muslim population. This has been the driving force behind the creation of the Students Indian Muslim Movement and other similar movements among India’s large Muslim population. Atrocities like the mass killings of Muslims in Gujerat and the Samjhota Train Massacre—both State sponsored and abetted events—have added to the simmering indigenous cauldron that is bubbling on its own without the external stimulus that India blames it on.

A 50000 kilometer swathe of territory in India’s Chattisgarh State the Bastar region– has emerged as one of the many strongholds of the Maoists in the north east. Many local extremist organizations support the CPI-M— like the Dandakaranaya Adivasi, the Kissan-Mazdoor Sangh, the Kranthiari Adivasi Mahila Sangh and the Kranthiari Adivasi Balak Sangh. Adivasis are the most exploited, ill treated and down trodden lower castes in India. Similar strongholds exist in the entire north eastern region. The population hates the exploitative and corrupt state political, bureaucratic and security establishments and generally supports the Maoist insurgents. Those who collaborate with government agencies are ruthlessly killed to serve as examples to others. Politicians and police officials concerned with their own survival become manipulative and often ignore or underplay Maoist activity.

State capacity is severely limited on many counts. There are desertions and mutinies within the security forces (SF). Policemen refuse specialized training for fear of postings to Maoist dominated areas. Over 29 policemen were killed in a single attack last July sending a stark message to the SF. State strategy vacillates between talks, peace deals, negotiations and the use of force with the result that there has never been an effective strategy despite the billions that have been spent on developing capacity. Maoists have targeted SF personnel and civilians with impunity. Bomb blasts, targeted killings, assassinations, kidnappings and subversion are rampant. There is no doubt that SF have been penetrated by the Maoists and there is evidence of total intelligence failure. As in Kashmir the Indian propensity to use inordinate levels of orce against unarmed civilians is the driver behind the hatred in the population. The Maoists also have access to weapons. Indian political moves to enlist Bangla Desh in the fight against the Maoists are unlikely to help because the root cause of the problem is the grievances against India. It is possible that if Bangla Desh cooperates then the Maoists will extend operations into the vulnerable areas of Bangla Desh too.

The Indian SF ‘Operation Green Hunt” launched with much hype in November 2009 has faltered because of incompetence, lack of capacity and widespread hostility among the people of the area. The Maoists have now threatened to kidnap children, bomb schools and hospitals. There are many Chattisgarhs in the north east and Indian strategy to deal with them is not working. In fact it is creating more hatred and extremism. A more rational approach that stresses harmony in bilateral relations, addresses the concerns and aspirations of the people and restrains the use of force is the answer but such an approach as never found favor in India otherwise the Kashmir issue would have been resolved years ago.


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