The government’s polices are a right package?

Prime Minister had called for one Mr.M Shashidhar Reddy for talks on” the Naxalite menace ahead of the crucial chief ministers’ conference on Naxalism in the capital last month. Who is Mr.Reddy?

He was appointed by Sonia Gandhi at the AICC as convener of the task force on Naxal violence. So much so good. At least the major political party thought fit to give thought to tackle one of the growing problems with wider implications for the future of the country, our economy and society and politics.

It is said the meeting lasted for more than an hour, showing how serious the issue of Naxalite violence is and how serious the PM is about doing something constructive.Reddy is into the job precisely for one  year and he is said to have submitted a report on the subject to Mrs. Gandhi.

The PM, as is his wont, had called for some more policemen, security experts and all are retired officials and too willing to advise the government. Of course all these experts make a living only sitting in Delhi and all would be only too happy to associate themselves with this sort of task. In fact, one had lost count with the number of such committees, presently in existence in Delhi corridors of power!

Now coming to the more serious part of the subject, there is a growing pattern to Naxal-Maoist violence. In March alone, on March 13, there was the CPI (Maoist) hijacked an entire passenger train in Jharkhand and held it for 24 hours. This was in retaliation for killing its zonal commander by the local police. On March 24 a group of determined and heavily armed Naxals staged yet another attack. They laid siege to the town of Udaygiri in remote Orissa and attacked every symbol of authority-the police station, barracks, revenue office and sub-jail!

The attackers demonstrated a high degree of planning and trained professionalism. They succeeded in freeing 40 prisoners from a local jail. A day later, a group of 13 unsuspecting traders were killed by Maoists in a landmine blast in north Bastar, Chattisgarh.

This list is only for the March month. Now the Naxalite- Maoist violence is reported to have covered almost one fourth of the Indian landmass. So, the urgency of the PM’s convening the state cm’s conference to discuss the subject. The subject is of course quite complicated and requires a great deal of time and attention and a wide range of consultations with not only officials but also the larger society of thoughtful sections.

Of the 600 or so districts in the country, more than 150 are affected by the left-wing  extremism (LWE).The annual report of the home ministry released on March 16 notes that as many as 76 districts in 9 states(AP, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Orissa, MP,UP and W,Bengal) are deemed to be” badly affected”

The statistics make for bad reading! The LWE as a collective is getting progressively better armed, in 2005 alone, total security forces killed registered an increase of 53%! India has a total of 12,476 police stations.509 of them in 11 states are hit by Naxal-related violence. Some states are more badly affected.The percentage increase in Naxal incidents and deaths from 2004 to 2005 is as follows: AP-72% and 178%; Chhattisgarh-8& and 99%; Maharashtra-13% and 253%: UP-33% and 96% and Orissa-20% and 75%.

The crucial point that emerges from the home ministry report is that it is the rural India and the adjoining mofussil are the areas where the LWE finds its inspiration. Where there is bad neglect, where the rural interior is not affected by the modern states development works and where the communications, roads, telecommunications and the spread of education and public awareness is not there are areas that draw this LWE.

The Indian socio-economic developments too impact in no small measure. The spread of globalization and the infotainment revolution had definitely had an impact on the aspirations and dreams and the frustrations that come with these developments, owing, we would say, to the lack of grasp of the Indian realities by those in power in Delhi.

Yes, you cant search for lapses in a democracy like ours to any other causes, we are not Nepal where there is an insensitive monarchy, we are not Pakistan where there is a military dictatorship, even in that country we see the changes because of the change in mood of the public.

In India we see an “elitist status quo” of forces and vested interests contributing to a monopoly of power over the military and physical forces of the state to be deployed whenever there is an outbreak of the Naxalite -Maoist attack that raises a hue and cry for a few days and then forgotten by the status-quo driven state setup.

The short and long-term solutions must be simple common sense. Yes, go ahead with the people’s movements, “sakwa judum”. Innocent tribals were killed and in Chhattisgarh a private movement by one Mahendra Karma was joined by other parties and yet the effort seems to have been suspended by the Chhattisgarh government. The suspension was taken after intellectuals and human rights activists came against the movement that was proving to be counter- productive.

The PM-CMs meet would discuss further providing security to peoples peace movements against Naxal violence, taking up industrial projects in the affected areas, land reforms and also the current” surrender and reform” polices. Somehow, it is the spread of education, IT and telecommunication revolution, rural roads and locating some major industries in these remote areas under special concessional packages only can deal with this rural violence.

One suggestion: take all the latest employment, Bharat Nirman programmes to these LWE spots. That could provide a focused attack on these pockets of endemic violence.

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