Sunday, August 27, 2006

Chattisgarh: Blood on the tribal land

In post independent India, more than 30000 villagers have been displaced and are now staying in refugee camps, says Abhinandan Mishra

The arrival of the American President nearly overshadowed the killing of more than 25 innocent tribals by Naxalites in Chhattisgarh. The inability of the Chhattisgarh government which is of "the people" and "by the people" to provide security "to the people" is a matter of grave concern in enforcement of Constitutional provisions in Chhattisgarh. Recent spurt in violence by the Naxalites and "irresponsible" and vague statements by the state's home minister and the senior police officers has raised serious concern over the containment of the Maoist' menace in the state.

The recent violence is one of the series of major incidents committed by the Maoists in last 30 days in the state. Tuesday's Maoists attack was preceded by killing of tribals, attack on police station, killings of jawans of Nagaland armed battalion, looting of explosives from the NMDC ore mines and blasting of high tension transmission tower.

The Naxalite who earlier used to operate only in the interiors of Bastar and Surguja are now visible in action on the highways in the two regions and police reports suggest they have even planted pressure bombs in water hand pumps. The growing influence of the Maoist can be gauged from the simple fact that they even managed to reach the state capital to distribute their VCDs and literature and that too in the flats of the MLAs.

Though there has been a significant increase in the Naxal related violence since the last one year, but inaction even after intelligence inputs and presence of large number of security personnel in the state shows the inability of the state to run the normal administration effectively in the Naxal infested areas.

There has been a debate over the movement of the Salva Judum campaign as whether the state has any rights of using people as an instrument in their efforts of eradicating the Left Wing extremism, The state government is not only determined to use them as tools, but is also glorifying it. Till now, more than 150 villagers associated with the movement have lost their lives in a span of eight months which averages to two persons being killed every third day. In a rare mass migration in post independent India, more than 30000 villagers have been displaced and are now staying in refugee camps. Even when so many people have lost their lives and homes with a commitment to drive out the Naxalites from their homeland, state government still has to formulate a policy as how to go about the public upsurge in these areas which is adding to the casualties. The tribals and the villagers who are associated with the campaign have been stranded with nowhere to go, for it's the Maoist who bay for their blood if the join the movement and if they do not, the same is done by the state government.

The development programmes and the rehabilitation of villagers displaced owing to the movement as announced by the government eight months back, are still at the policy formulation levels, furthering adding to the miseries of people. Government in a statement admitted non-utilization of 90 per cent of the fund allocated for Naxal infested
Dantewara district. Since September, there is no construction of roads, no relief works in the district.

The ministers and the senior leaders of the BJP in Chhattisgarh had been complaining of Centre's inability and inassistance in combating the problem. It seems the BJP government has no knowledge of the Constitutional provisions of police being a state subject and duty of the state government is to provide security to its citizens. The law and order is an exclusive issue to be dealt by the state government and the role of the Government of India is limited to extending support in form of resources, like extra force and funds. Even after getting the support of the Government of India, which was evident when the centre willingly allowed the state to use the services of the NSG commandos, the state's inability in combating the problem has now the forced it to find new excuses and new strategies to ignore its responsibility. The Irresponsible attitude of the chief minister was evident from his statement when he attributed the increase in violence to "inaction of the neighboring states".

The home minister too has been using idioms in state's response to the increasing violence of Maoists which are boasting, irresponsible and baseless. In addition to the politicians, the state's DG of police calling the Maoists as thieves, dacoits and smugglers shows the professional incapability of the state police chief. The state machinery in its statements has termed Maoist violence as an act of cowardice and has repeatedly talked of new strategies almost every week, but on the ground the situation is worsening day by day. Much hype was created by the state government officials regarding availing the expertise of the elite NSG commandos in combating the naxalites, now after these commandos have arrived in the state, no official has spoken anything regarding their effectiveness.

The phenomenal rise in the naxal violence is mainly attributed to sagging morale of the security forces of which the government is not even apparently aware of. There is no uniform policy of posting of police men in naxalite infested areas and most of police officers are posted in those areas as punishment. Police is struggling for the basic needs and even the senior police officials are struggling for their genuine needs.

Another reason for the increase in naxalite authority is the rampant corruption which has covered the state. The government sponsored scheme of free supplying of LPG cylinders to villagers and tribals of the naxalite infested district has run into rough weathers, with zero cylinders being distributed in Kanker and Dantewara and Seventy-four against the target of five thousand in bastar.

As described by the chief Minster the state Government is engaged in fighting a "battle" against the maoist, a battle which is being fought through pamphlets, posters and vcd's on the same scale as done by the maoist.

The "gentleman, humble and generous" chief minister of the state Raman singh has apparently become a victim of confusion, lack of coordination and communication among the different section of the state bureaucracy, police and his own office which became evident when contradictory statements were issued about the casualty figure and kidnappings following Tuesdays tribal massacre. The chief minister literally woke up following the message from the president and statement of the union home minister in the parliament and consequently the international community was fed with high alarming figures of death which remained un-confirmed.

The Salva judum campaign which was claimed to be launched 'by the people' is now leading to sufferings 'to the people' and the basic relief 'for the people' is the ultimate casualty. It now remains to be seen that when will the state government decide that enough is enough.


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