Call it CPM pressure, cynical political opportunism or a total abdication of its primary duty, the UPA is talking with a forked tongue on the raging Maoist menace in the country. Not that the centre is unaware of the gravity of the situation. Maoist terrorists are proving a greater threat to the country'ssovereignty than even the jehadi terrorists.
In Chhattisgarh, the BJP government is fighting the Maoists with its back to the wall. It has inspired a unique people'smovement, Salwa Judum, in the tribal belt to confront the terrorist outfit, which has been targeting the helpless Vanvasis and the security personnel with blood-curdling brutality at regular intervals. The Maoist leadership is drawn from the wily plains people, mostly from Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. To that extent they are not tribals, only that they are making tribals their cannon fodder.
A few weeks ago the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh described the Maoists as the most serious internal threat facing the country. But his Home Minister is totally unmoved. He looks at it as a simple law and order problem. For him, it is only a matter of tackling a couple of hundred youth who are ?our misguided brothers and sisters?.
The Tribal Affairs Minister P.R. Kyndiah'sresponse is more hilarious. Releasing his draft tribal policy he said Maoism is a mere violent manifestation of tribal unrest owing to social, political and economic reasons. The draft policy emphasised that these disaffected sections of tribals have begun to view the state as their exploiter and enemy and they are looking up to the preachers of violent action as their protectors and friends. Such purple prose can only be straight out of some Maoist propaganda literature, but this is the stuff with which the UPA government'sdraft tribal policy is made of. If this is the perception of various ministers in the central cabinet to what the Prime Minister described as the ?most serious internal threat? to the country, there is something fundamentally wrong with the UPA.
That is why the state governments are groping in the dark on fighting this terror. The Maoists have killed and maimed more security personnel and civilians, caused more damage to public property than the jehadi terrorists. Their approach is more barbaric and brutal. K.P.S. Gill, the greatest living legend in fighting terrorism in the country, who is now security adviser to Chhattisgarh government, told the Indian Express Editor-in-Chief Sekhar Gupta on NDTV'sWalk the Talk, ?Their (Maoists) strength if it can be called a strength, is the brutality by which they kill. That has been their modus operandi since the time they started out in the 70s? (They kill) by multiple injuries, a stone is picked up and the victim is hit with it over and over. It seems brutal, prehistoric. Their strategy (is) that the manner of killing should frighten more than killing itself. They terrorise those whom they are supposed to be representing, to be emancipating.?
The latest instance was the cruel Maoist attack on the Salwa Judum relief camp at Errabor in Dantewada where, according to local media reports, among the 59 people killed a woman special police officer was mercilessly picked up and gangraped before being murdered in the most barbaric manner. In this attack, as in all previous instances, they did not spare even children. Their tender limbs were chopped off and thrown in the thick forest. This is the kind of Maoist revolution our left intellectuals are hailing as liberation.
?They are mainly an extortionist group rather than a political movement, and they extort money from tribals. The only thing sets them apart is the brutality in which they act,? says Gill.
?That is why it is remarkable that these terrorised people, these unarmed people have risen up against the Naxalite terror. And it is this willingness of ordinary people to stand up that will make the eventual difference.? This is how Gill summed up the Salwa Judum experiment. ?It is people'swar against Maoists,? says Chief Minister Raman Singh. The increased attacks on the Salwa Judum by the Maoists is an indication of their despair. They are both frustrated and angry that the tribals are getting themselves organised with some government help to fight back their tormentors. Tribals are given physical training and elementary lessons in combating terror. It is also an effort to engage them in the socio-economic development of the region. The Maoists are desperate that the poor, hopeless and exploited Vanvasis are learning to get out of their haven and say no to the Maoist extortionists. The Maoists exploit them economically and sexually. They arrest the progress in the tribal belt, campaign against education and social empowerment. They agitate against industrialisation because that will expose them.
The Maoist brutality is never graphically reported. They have the halo of social revolutionaries, bestowed on them by apologists in the media and fellow-traveller NGOs. Civil liberty outfits only argue for their cause, not for the victims of their macabre onslaughts. The security men who get killed in thousands won'teven get any gallantry award. They die unsung leaving their families to the vagaries of their job profile.
Of late, the left and civil liberty groups have unleashed a propaganda war against Salwa Judum. Their entire focus is on the Chhattisgarh government. Their strategy is to give it a tribal versus tribal fa?ade and allege that Salwa Judum is inspiring the tribal brethren to fight the state'swar. The votaries of this thesis ignore the fact that Maoists are enemies of the nation and it is the duty of every citizen in the country to confront and isolate such anti-social elements, who work outside the civilised society. Maoists declare that they have no faith in the Republic, no use for democracy and constitutional framework. They work at the behest of foreign masters with foreign funds and weapons.
Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh charged that the centre was washing its hands of the issue. The latest instance he cited was the centre'ssuperficial response to the Maoist attack on the Salwa Judum'srelief camp at Errabor. ?Can we checkmate the naxalites single-handedly when they strike on our people within just one kilometre from a neighbouring state?? he asks.
In fact, the UPA has joined the sinister attempt to give Salwa Judum a bad name and kill it before it takes off. It has partially succeeded in confusing the political establishment and it is talking as if Salwa Judum is a greater menace than the vicious indoctrination of the gullible Vanvasis by anti-nationals. We should not allow this thinking to gain ground. Salwa Judum is a non-party endeavour. It was initially started by the leader of the Congress opposition, Mahendra Karma. It has the support of veteran Congress leaders like Shyama Charan Shukla. Actually the entire Congress leadership in the state except former Chief Minister Ajit Jogi is behind this movement. Any rethinking on its efficacy at this stage will prove counter-productive, giving the Maoists both the strategic and psychological boost.
Ultimately, development is the only solution to Maoist menace. That is why the Maoists oppose new projects, any move to provide Vanvasis a better living in the tribal areas. They want to keep the Vanvasis captive in their backwardness. The fight against Maoists can be won by ensuing better education, sanitation, better roads, electrification and progress.