The gruesome act of killing 76 CRPF personnel by the Naxals in Dante-Wada Chhattisgarh, has kind of given a conclusive edge to the school of thoughts that justify use of force to curb the homegrown insurgency. But even in the shadow of such tangible evidence to justify the complete wipe of gun wielding extremists or the home grown & possibly more adverse form of terrorism, a few including myself are bound to have a ambivalent approach towards such men and the situation as a whole. One might wonder as to why would someone even think twice before supporting use of force to eliminate the extremists who without blinking an eye have taken so many innocent lives over the years, the massacre of 76 CRPF men just being the most recent of their bizarre uncalled for acts. Here I discuss as to why the second thought on such action crossed my mind.
First and perhaps the strongest reason why I believe people like me shudder at the thought of giving a complete freehand to the forces to wipe of Maoists from the roots is that although unintentional the term “Maoists” or “Naxals” has developed to carry a underlying symbolism to the dangerous extent of being construed as a synonym to represent the millions of tribals that live in our hinterlands and of whom the extremists are only a fraction but definitely not a representation. And accept it or not the truth is that while taking the offensive to the Naxals the forces would be using the same definition of “target”. There is a thin line that separates the impoverished weak & malnourished sickle wielding tribal farmer from the gun totting Naxal out to kill soft targets, police personnel included. It will be difficult and perhaps near impossible to make out one from the other for a para-military Jawan sent in with a license to kill. But the cruel fact is that there is a difference and that would be the whole differentiator in justification of terminating a life that is a threat to the peace & safety of the nation from taking a innocent life that otherwise also over the years has been oppressed & rendered too weak to speak for itself .
Since post independence pockets in this country have progressed and prospered. Discounting the big cities and metros that have been centers of development, I believe it would be difficult for even a average city or village dweller to imagine the life that these tribal's have been living or have been forced to live in. If in the year 2010, in a country presented to the world as a center of technological and IT development, there still are communities that still would see a thing as simple as a mobile phone as nothing less then GOD’s miracle, would have never heard least see a television set in life, are illiterate to the extent that they cant even tell their age least tell what year they are living in and for whom having three full meals a day is the definition of luxury, then in my opinion there has been something terribly wrong to the extent of sins & not just flaws in how this country has been run for the past 63 years post independence.
60 years is a long period isnt it. For people like us it means being born in safe hands with all the medical attention - years of adolescence with ample food, fun, education and protection – romantic years in college planning (if at all) for a prosperous life amidst bikes, cars, fast food, loads of fun and love – serious years of profession amassing wealth for family & self – and a decent life in year to grow old. But for people who or at least some of whom are now being defined by the blanket term “Maoists” it has been living hell each passing day which they have accepted as life. For years together they have got nothing more than 2 meals a day which means little more than boiled rice with some curry or more often than not boiled rice with water and salt. For them it means 60 years of each day going to the forest for finding food or sweating it out in fields or mines run by the wealthy. It means 60 years of life without electricity, proper clothes, education, food, medication or ears to hear their plight. God would have been kind if it was only that. But to them it also means 60 years of oppression by the wealthier class, 60 years of beatings, torture, rape and 60 years of people making them believe they are no better than animals and worms that they share their space in jungles with. Going by example of just one of such tribes in Chhattisgarh the “Gongs”. They dont know what electricity is or what a bulb does, they equate their forest to nation, Politicians they equate to kings or lords, and of whom also they know only of Indira Gandhi for she had been there a number of times and now know Sonia Gandhi as her bahu, they know the chief minister Raman Singh as “Chawal (rice) baba” as he distributed rice and salt during elections, they don’t own any land and know only of a middleman who buys what they produce or get from jungles in return of food. Compulsory education does not mean anything for them for they have never seen a school, Rajiv gandhi rozgar yojna that gives assured wages to one member of all below poverty line families is unknown to them as they don't know what a government is - all money thus allotted to them is being gluttoned by officialdom and corruption.
No one in the government or society for 60 years cared to drop even a second look at their plight. And then some of them resorted to force to fight such oppression & inequality, opted to color of blood to make them visible in the canvas of our country, opted for guns when sickles could not get them even a right to live with honor leave alone equality and opted for taking lives if threatened after years of being mauled themselves. And suddenly we hear them and see them as threat to our civilized social fabric.
Do not get me wrong, in no way I am justifying their killing of innocent or for that matter even of those who they see as guilty. They have no right to do so and deserve punishment. But what I am trying to say is that such people are not all but only a fraction of such oppressed classes. And when we take the offensive back to the jungles this very fact would be overlooked as a fine print. And while we may succeed in eliminating a few hundreds of Naxals threats but in the end we would end up loosing millions of innocent lives. In fact in the last piece I wrote on this State Vs Naxals – Where does this end? I had expressed as to how this inland battle is and would be nothing more than a few of our own who are very poor, killing the somewhat less poor. The 76 CRPF Jawans who died last week at the hands of a few hundred Naxals and those Naxals them selves were (and if I can take the liberty of saying this) from somewhat similar if not the same strata of society. The Jawans were from remote villages of UP, Bihar & Haryana, the poverty situation where is no different from the jungles of Chhattisgarh where they were killed. Some of them perhaps the sole bread winners for the family of many. A widow with 5 daughters and no source of income left, a old father & mother with the only earning child gone, 4 children with the father who was the only parent taken away, a mother with 3 daughters to marry & the son to provide for them gone, is all but putting a few faces to those who would have been left behind. What path it leaves open for such who they leave behind is anybody’s guess. One thing is for sure though that the fate of most of those who are left behind by - those who naxals kill or by naxals who get killed, is dark. Suicide, stealing, crime, murder, prostetution are some open options that life would throw at them. Though there would also be those who alone or with help from family or society bravely face life and come out victorious and live with pride & honor. But then - is throwing even a few helpless at the cruel hands of life justified?
I am angered when incidents like Dante-Wada happen, when a outsiders or a few of our own misguided men challenge the might of our nation and take innocent lives and the first possible reaction is to strike back. But then I guess the difference in those doing a crime and those fighting the crime is in the thought process of detailing repercussions and collateral damage. While one makes complete mockery of life & right to life of others, the other by not following suit is only being awake to the reality. But then the cruel fact of life is that your and in this case our government’s inaction based on any reasons would sooner or later be construed as weakness by the offender and strengthens his false sense of victory and entice him to repeat such ghastly acts that are daring in their view.
So I for sure support use of force to answer and to curb inland extremism or insurgency. We have example of Punjab in front of us where we were forced to use force but then we also have horror stories of that era on either side who fought that war, that still would chill your spine. So while we got to do what we got to do, but instead of going overboard I still believe the government has to workout some method to this madness so that the collateral damage is minimized. The wounds of such an action might take years to heal but in the current scenario that we ourselves have led us to be in, that perhaps is the most rationale and practical thing to do. Cutting our own body may not be the easiest thing to do but sometimes it has to be done least it poisons the whole system.
My ambivalence on the use of such force though arise from the fact that whatever we do, majority of those who would die (and die they will) would be the same – Only differentiated by the color they wear - “KHAKI” or “RED”.