THE latest episode of kidnapping and human ransom by the Naxalites in Orissa has yet again proved the inefficiency of the internal security management. That is stating the obvious. But what is more resentful is the fact the state government and the centre, not even for form’s sake issued warning to the abductors or attempted sending a rescue mission.
By meeting the demands of the Naxalite criminals, the governments have given a morale boost to them. This is not the first time that the government has capitulated to the demands of terrorists and bandits. The list of such incidents is long. But with each episode, the administration is exposing itself more as a weak force against the merchants of murder, who operate under the cover of the forest.
The state government accepted the mediators nominated by the abductors. It did not even seek to make them meet half way by asking them to unconditionally release the IAS officer and then come for talks. If this is how the governments keep reacting, then there is no purpose in any anti-Naxal operation.
The number of policemen killed in Naxal violence is phenomenal. In fact, many of those in jails now may have been caught at the cost of the lives of several men in uniform. If such anti-nationals are to be released with this ease, there is no reason or logic for the policemen in future to either arrest or put their lives at risk to arrest the Naxalites. The policemen cannot even kill them as that attracts the so-called human rights issue. Then the policeman is suspended, hounded for life, and dishonoured.
This round, the demands of the Naxalites included halting anti-Maoist operations by security forces, release of all political prisoners (around 600), scrapping of accords with multi-national companies for land transfer and projects, and compensation for the families of Maoist sympathisers killed in police custody. They had asked for the release of specific ‘bigwigs’ among them, which the government worked through the judiciary, again exposing the fact that the judiciary can be arm-twisted by the government.
The abduction of the IAS officer, reading from the newspaper reports, appears to be a case of gross violation of security norms for government officials working in Naxal infested areas. He reportedly went unescorted, moving in open vehicles. That he was popular among the tribals did not deter the Naxals, who speak in their name, from abducting him. In fact, one suspects that was the reason why he was kidnapped, lest he managed to wean away the tribals from the killers’ influence.
Orissa is not Kandahar. It is very much within India and under the law of the land. The forests are not impregnable for the security forces, if they are offering safe haven to the Maoist killers. It is to be noted that the arm-chair ‘intellectuals’ who cry hoarse for the rights of the left extremists whenever one culprit is caught or killed did not appeal to their friends in jungle to release the senior government official. The Centre too has been rather indifferent in the issue, leaving the state government to handle the whole case. The Union Home Minister, under whom the intelligence functions and the Prime Minister to whom the set up reports, have not been heard. Naxal terror is not a state issue or a routine law and order matter. It is an organised, armed and violent movement, with an avowed objective of destabilising the democratic polity of the country. The Naxalites get the necessary political backing from various parties, from time to time – Congress, Communists, Trinamool Congress, etc – which is what has emboldened them. There are reports that they are getting support from across both the east and western borders of India, including Nepal. It is high time the government woke up to the challenge posed by the Naxal terrorists, if it wants to avoid complete demoralisation of the police force. The option of using the jungle warfare trained unit of the defence forces needs to be considered seriously, now.