Tuesday's deadly ambush by Naxals on paramilitary forces in Dantewada, which claimed the lives of 75 CRPF jawaans and policemen raises many unanswered questions. Local journalists and politicians speak on the reasons behind the massacre.
Jab tak hamara khun pani hai aapka khun khun ha, tab tak hamare vahan log marte rahenge (Till the time value of our life is less, our people will keep dying).
Rajendra Bajpai, a journalist residing in Jagdalpur in tribal dominated Dantewada district of Chattisgarh told rediff.com while reacting to the shocking deaths of 75 jawans and policemen in his district at the hands of naxalites on Tuesday.
He said, "Even when one man dies in New Delhi it hits the headlines -- but when tribals are killed we don't get enough attention because the value of tribal lives are less than the urban Indian lives."
While giving details of the deaths of Central Reserve Police Force jawans and policemen, he said, "Yesterday around 156 CRPF jawans had gone on search operations on foot. Some villagers from that area must have informed the Naxals about it. Since the CRPF jawans had gone inside the jungles, the Naxals knew surely they would return to their base camp in Chintalnar by the same road."
"In the area called Talmetla, Naxals lay land mines. Early morning on Tuesday, when security forces were returning, they were obviously quite exhausted. The summer is on and it is very hot. Two jawans died as the first blast took place at Talmetla. Then in cross-firing in a bid to defend themselves, more people died. Even rescue teams could not be of much help, because even they were attacked," he added.
The Naxals were well-prepared for the ambush. They had not only put land mines on their return path, but they also blocked all the roads leading to the area and encircled it, so that no rescue team could reach them.
According to initial information, when the blast took place, two of security forces died. So the CRPF jawans tried to fight back, but they had to fight at several places.
"It was like the expanded battlefield," said Karimuddin, another journalist working out of Jagdalpur.
However, these inputs could not be rechecked as senior officers of the district are still engaged in evacuation of dead bodies from the area and in cordoning off the villages.
Manish Kunjam, a Communist Party of India living in Dantewada, said, "This kind of attack must be condemned, but people making policies should now sit and think what is not working out. Till the time you don't respect and give tribals of India their rights over water, land and forests, such Naxalites will keep getting support in villages and our security forces will remain in the firing line."
He went on to add, "These deaths make us grim. But, it also tells us that the government must radically change its policies to win the hearts of the tribals."
"Those who are against violence should understand that such a big ambush was not possible for the Naxal leaders without local support. Someone has informed them that a CRPF party has gone into the jungles for search operations. Also, when they lay the ambush to gherao them, it could not have escaped the attention of the local people," he noted.
The biggest weakness of the current establishment is that although the co-ordination between forces has slightly improved, but it's still not at the desired level. The state machinery and central forces have not synchronised their agenda and priorities.
Prakash Singh, former chief of the Border Security Force and the CRPF, while talking to rediff.com, said, "On the ground the CRPF and state police have reservations. State police has doubts about operational efficacy of the CRPF."
Whoever rediff.com spoke to in Dantewada, seems angry -- because they say that urban India and particularly powerful people in New Delhi 'don't understand basic issues of tribals of India. Why should security forces die because of ill-conceived policies of governments?'
Bajpai said angrily, "The most important thing urban India should note is that economy of the tribal belts of India is functioning. Why? How? With whose help? Thekedar (contractors), businessmen, industrialists, miners and bureaucrats all are non-tribals and have a tight grip over the economy of the area."
While condemning the deaths of jawans, he said, "Why should they die?"
"Whether you get operation red or green or yellow hunt, nothing will change here, because everybody is in business of making money in the name of 'eradicating Maoists. Just stop it from New Delhi, if you can," he added.