The advice to Maoists to give up violence would go down better if were accompanied by the economic package as well.
By: Kuldip Nayar
Tamer is a small Adivasi village in the deep jungles of Chhattisgarh. Two tribal farmers from the village are fighting a loosing battle against a young congress MP. He has forcible built a factory on their fields, spread over 10 acres. He belongs to an industrialist scion from Haryana.
One farmer, possessing one and a half acres, is a policeman who has resigned from his job to devote all his time to get back the land. He and other farmer having seven and a half acres of a land, often travel 400 km to Raipur, the state capital to knock at the door of top officials because the farmers have got no justice at the district headquarters Raigarh.
Both have been dubbed ‘Maoists’ though, in this case, they are merely fighting for their land. Prim minister Manmohan sing has characterized Maoists as the “ single biggest internal security challenge” to India the two farmers have nothing to do with the Maoists and Naxalites . But since the Maoists have evoked revulsion in the last few months after slaughtering 24 policeman in West Bengal , and 12 villagers in Bihar, the government finds it convenient to call the 2 farmers Maoists to divert attention from the forcible occupation of the land. But they are not an exception.
I met at Raipur this week many tribal’s who had been ousted from their land -and villages- to make room for industrialists of different climes, Indian and foreign, to exploit the natural resources like coal and iron ore. The state government has signed as many as 105 MoUs. The ragtag force of Sulwa Judum is an armed private outfit that the government has constituted to drive out tribals by force.
Some of the uprooted tribal’s , num bering 2 lakh , have crossed over from Chhattisgarh to the jungles in Maharashtra, Orissa and Andra Prades. Many are yet to be rehabilitated(40000 are still in camps ). Tribals could have used their poisoned arrows to defend themselves as they have done in the past.
The national Human Rights commission gave a critical report against the treatment meted out to tribals. On the basis of the report, the supreme court has instructed the Chhattisgarh government to rehabilitate the dispossessed Adivasis. Every collector has been asked to rehabilitate the disposed. But there is no action yet.
An overwhelming number of tribals, roughly 84 million or 8.2per cent of India’s population, are not with the Maoists in their rebellion against the state. But what option do tribals have when they find the Maoists equipped with latest weapons threatening them? Tribals are also victims of lack of development and corruption. In fact, they find themselves caught between the government’s neglect and the Maoists’ gun.
Tribals want to return to their old life when the forest provided them with everything they needed. They had then ‘jal’ (water), ‘zamin’ (land) and the bounty of jungle. In fact, that is their demand and they agitate to have them back. They are too innocent for the mechanizations –and brute force-of the nexus between the government and the corporate sector.
The Maoists have only made things more difficult for them because their war cry and their violence have driven the state to adopt fascist tactics. Unthinkingly, New Delhi has given its operation the nomenclature of Green Hunt. If at all it is a hunt, it is of the Red and it endangers whatever the green s left. The ravages of operation through the jungles can be devastating. The innocent will bear the brunt.
I also met Dr. Vinayak Sen at Raipur. He is president of the Chhattisgarh’s PUCL. He is a doctor who has spent two years in jail. I did not see anything violent either in his deeds or words. Why the government took umbrage against his fight for civil rights of the suppressed tribal’s is not understandable. Such people should be given recognition for the good work they are doing to retrieve the people from the Maoists’ clutches.
The crisis of Indian politics, as I see, is a crisis of change. It reflects the widening gap between the base of polity and its structure. Both politics, as I see, is a crisis of change. It reflects the widening gap between the base of polity and its structures. Both political and economic processes have brought sections of the peripheral and deprived social strata in the open without the rulers doing anything about it.
Home minister P Chidambaram may be able to suppress the Maoists by employing the huge apparatus the government has built in the name of law and order, a state subject. But he should realize that some other Maoists will come up if the 70 per cent of people remain poor and if the disparities between the people and the areas do not get narrower.
Chidambaram’s advice to the Maoists to give up violence would go down better if he were to announce the economic package as well. He must have seen how the movement confined to a few villages in West Bengal some 50 years ago has spread to Orissa, Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh.
Political parties have to tear a leaf from the book of the Maoists. Today they have come to represent a social economic change in the country. They alone talk about such an agenda. What they do not realise is that they will be a big force to reckon with if they take to electoral politics.