THE fact that the government has plans to deploy unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in the Maoist-infested areas for gathering intelligence and assisting the security forces demonstrates there are people in the highest echelons who recognise the gravity of the threat posed by Leftwing extremists. Their efficacy in tackling Red terror, however, cannot be taken for granted, for they are up against subversive elements that have got entrenched in the system in the last seven years.
The appointment of Binayak Sen on a Planning Commission panel is symptomatic of the sway of subversion. Here is a Maoist sympathiser who was convicted of sedition—and he attends the meeting of the steering group of a body which is headed by the Prime Minister. The group would advise the plan panel finalise the Twelfth Five Year Plan (2012-17).
It is a well-known fact that the Chhattisgarh government opposed his appointment as a member of a plan panel group. The state government even threatened to skip future meetings with the Commission if Sen remained on its steering group. Chief Minister Dr Raman Singh said: “Is there such a dearth of experts in the country that the Centre had to take the advice of a person accused of sedition?”
Sen’s appeal lies in the higher court, but his sympathy for Maoists is indisputable. Equally indisputable is the savagery of Maoists. Having killed thousands of paramilitary troopers and innocent people, their bloodthirstiness has not abated. On June 26, for example they triggered a landmine blast in Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada district, killing at least four policemen.
But our intellectuals, who have bid adieu to commonsense and reason, refuse to acknowledge the reality of Maoism. Their blindness was evident when they greeted Sen’s conviction with a mix of demagoguery, outrage, and disinformation. This was not surprising because intellectuals, like Sen, always ignore or downplay the barbarity of Maoists, also called Naxalites.
In fact, many intellectuals have depicted the vicious murderers as the champions of tribals, completely overlooking the massacres carried out by them, the most brutal being the one at Dantewara on April 10, 2010, in which 76 security personnel were butchered in cold blood.
The indecorous and ferocious reaction of activists—many of them members of the powerful Sonia Gandhi-led National Advisory Council (NAC)—is symptomatic not only of their self-righteousness but also of their disregard for the Indian republic. “I am very distressed. I have known him (Sen) for 25 years and cannot believe the charges pressed against him. The evidence (against Sen) is very weak and the trial was a farce. We stand by him and his family. I have no doubt that the police and the judiciary are not above the influence of political objectives,” said NAC member Harsh Mander.
The trial carried out in an Indian court is a farce; the judiciary is “not above the influence of political objectives”—the guy who made such statements is a member of the most influential body in the county. His views mould Government policy. And he has neither discretion nor shame making such remarks against the Indian state while being part of it.
Then there is Jean Dreze, who till recently was member of the NAC. He said, “I have known Dr Binayak Sen personally for many years and he is one of the most gentle and caring human beings I have met… His conviction to life imprisonment after a kangaroo trial is a disgrace and a crime.”
Sen has been proved to be an accessory of Naxalites who murder with impunity; but he remains a “gentle and caring” person in the reckoning of the human rights activists and other do-gooders.
Sen “has been handed down this sentence whose savagery is unbelievable,” said a statement signed, among others, by Romila Thapar, Prabhat Patnaik, Ashok Mitra and Mushirul Hasan. Nobel laureate Amartya Sen is also “outraged, upset.”
Even more bizarre was the view of CPM politburo member Brinda Karat. “The criminals are roaming at large, gang rapists are not punished, but Binayak Sen is given life sentence.” Did she represent the views of her party members who are fighting a mortal battle against the Naxalites in West Bengal? One wonders why is she has a soft corner for the sympathisers of the people who are killing, among others, CPM workers.
There seems to be total confusion in the fight against the mortal enemies of the nation. Nowhere is it more poignant than in the fight against Naxalites. Central forces shed blood in the killing fields of Dantewada and elsewhere, whereas the Central Government hobnobs with the friends of Naxalites in New Delhi. And on ground zero, people like Binayak Sen act as over-ground supporters of Maoists.
In short, it will be an uphill task for the backers of UAVs against Maoists. They will face grim resistance from the entrenched subversives within the system and from the sundry intellectuals outside it. They will be accused of state terror, human rights abuses, and civil rights violations. They will be denounced and derided. Such is the wages of safeguarding the nation.
(The author is a senior journalist)