Every so often, we hear of an attack perpetrated by Maoists or Naxalites, in which several Policemen lose their lives and public property is destroyed. These outlaws have in the past also indulged in kidnapping, intimidation, revenue theft and have even ‘punished’ local people with torture and execution style killings, accusing them of being police informants, or similar 'crimes'. The politicians and the Government are generally seen doing a lot of hand-wringing and “strongly condemning the Maoist action”, but I do have to express my puzzlement at why, without any exception, in every State where this problem exists, the Maoists need to be treated with kid gloves – like just so many wayward children being a tad naughty! With so many police families having been orphaned over the past couple of decades, and the loss of Governmental control over vast sections of the country, and the destruction of public property, machinery and assets, including the snatching away of thousands of police issue firearms should have been reason enough for any sensible government to launch a concerted effort to rein these terrorists in, using whatever means that it has at its disposal.
However, instead of strong and determined action, surprisingly, we hear politicians insisting that they do not advocate the use of the Army or the Air force "to fight our own people", and hence they will insist on the use of the poorly trained and ill-equipped State Police and Para-military forces, who seem to be like sitting ducks as happened in Dantewada. I was also quite shocked to hear a similar view being espoused by a former Army Chief, who was part of a television debate on the aftermath of the Dantewada incident. He seemed to suggest that the armed forces should be used only to quell an attack from across the borders, like traditional armies all over the world have been doing for about 5000 years. I cannot believe that a notion so outdated is still the view held by a man once tasked with the protection of this nation. Any entity or group waging war against a democratically elected Government should be equated to a traditional enemy, in my view. However, to make this decision easier, there is sufficient reason to believe that the Maoists have sympathizers across the borders judging from the ever increasing number of foreign made weapons that they possess. Thus, coming to the conclusion that they must be actively supported and financed by powers without – is something even a lay person will arrive at. In conclusion, if even one pistol or one grenade has been provided to the Maoists by a foreign power, for whatever reason, this becomes a war like any invasion of our land was before. There is no doubt in my mind that we need to quell such movements, and hence, the inability to understand the “they-are-our-own-people” approach.
This has been going on for a couple of decades, during which thousands of lives have been lost, and it is increasingly evident that it seems that we have a lot of Maoist sympathizers in the political establishment. The same establishment had no qualms about brutally attacking and thrashing up sleeping women and children peacefully protesting against corruption along with Baba Ramdev, or water cannoning and baton charging the thousands of young protestors seeking justice for the Delhi gang rape victim. However, when it comes to dealing with the Maoists, the selfsame establishment becomes all shy, coy and ties itself up in knots. Is this an acceptable and ethical position when “our own people” have taken to arms, some of which are reportedly supplied by foreign powers, and have been wantonly killing other Indians like policemen and villagers who are also “our own people”? Why should the Army not go in and disarm these groups using Arial reconnaissance and tactical support from the Air force?
Of course without a doubt, these groups should be first given the opportunity to surrender and abhor the armed struggle, join the political mainstream, and offered a time-frame of 12 months to turn in their weapons. I am a very staunch supporter of democratic processes and if the Maoists have the conviction that their cause is just, and that the people will be benefited by their movement, they should join the electoral process and become part of the Government. Clearly, only those who refuse the rule of law, and ignore the democratic process need to be brought to book using every power that is at the disposal of the Government. Why is such an action illegal or unethical? Can someone explain?