Sunday, May 26, 2013
Arms response to political issues a threat to secular democratic forces in India
The top leadership of Congress party in Chhattishgarh came under a well-coordinated attack from the Maoists in Darba Ghati in Sukma in the southern part of Bastar region. The Congress leadership had been campaigning in the state as part of their ‘Parivartan Yatra’ as Chhattishgarh goes for polls during the year end with many other states. Those who were killed are leader of opposition and a well-known Aadivasi leader Mahendra Karma, president of Chhattishgarh Congress Committee Mr Nand Kumar Patel as well as his son, some other senior leaders of the party. Former Union Minister Mr Vidya Charan Shukla suffered from four bullets and is battling for life in a hospital in Delhi while Ajit Jogi too survived as he flew from Sukma to Raipur. The leaders after finishing their rally at Sukma were going to Jagdalpur when the Maoists ambushed their caravan resulting in killing of over 29 party workers including senior leaders of Congress Party. Let me explain here that when we condemn the attack on the political workers does not mean we condone all their acts of using the state administration to intimidate people. Many of these leaders were highly unpopular because of their action but they had their huge followers too.
The audacity of this attack has rightfully shocked the nation. The enormity of the assault on the political structure was so high that the top leadership of the Congress Party had to discuss the issue in an emergency meeting at the Prime Minister’s residence and their Vice President Rahul Gandhi reached Raipur in the late night and met those injured. The Prime Minister and Congress President has just visited the state capital and expressed solidarity with their party workers.
Now, there are two important aspects in the entire incident. One that those who were targeted were political people and not the paramilitary forces or the local police and hence it is an important issue of deliberation and must be discussed with candid way as why the Maoist did so and whether they want the same reaction from the security agencies to eliminate their top leadership? What Chhattishgarh and Baster in particular lacked was the politicization process in which aadivasis must be made part of the democratic structure. The state apparatus remained contemptuous towards the aadivasis and hence they went to Naxal for basic support like getting their issues resolved through the ‘Jan Adalaits’ which are Kangaroo courts and do not place in any civilized society but because of ‘instant justice’ they instill fear in the small population who then have no option other than following the ‘sarkar’. The government of Chhattishgarh remained in Raipur with read beacons and politicians using mining to strengthen their pockets and here Maoists were engaged in their propaganda of ‘state’ as people’s ‘enemy’. Corruption, exploitation all those things which we are romantic of explaining could be best used by the ‘revolutionaries’ after all we get frustrated with a system only when we face corruptions and delays and this gives rise to ‘victimised’ mindset. One victimized mindset is completely developed then the radicalization process start and it is also true that we start believing that our ‘world’ is just around us. We stop to see the world in bigger sense. The propagandists will always speak in terms of ‘speaking’ for ‘people’. They will always claim a bigger representation from people. The fact is that Maoists have people’s support in those regions but whether this support is due to fear or without it does not matter. It only reflects that our governance structure is completely collapsed in Chhattishgarh and it needs special treatment. It need serious thought while violence must be handled with great caution, it is important that innocent people do not become victim of this ‘collateral damage’ as military ‘experts’ always claim.
It need to be understood that Chhattishgarh still has high number of investment and companies and other mining giants are still functioning in the state in spite of the so-called Naxals. Then we have religious gurus who have big ashrams in Chhattishgarh and no attempt have been made to respect the aadivasi identity. In fact the whole project of Hindutva is to ensure that Aadivasis remain as part of the Hindu system and there has been no effort by the so-called Maoists or Naxals to ensure that resulting in the continuous oppression of aadivasis by both the religious thugs as well as economically powerful people. Chhattishgarh and Jharkhand today are dominated by the outsiders. They have procured land and there is no stoppage to it. All the government schemes cannot function without those who are ‘dominating’ the area hence a basic question how are these outsiders able to work so independently who are fighting against ‘foreign domination’.
It is also a well-known fact that aadivasi areas have been without any road links, hospitals, schools and other basic facilities. Our system has not reached them and there is no participation in administration and political structure. Bastar’s issues cannot be resolved from Raipur and it is important that an independent Bastar Zone should be created with assurance of aadivasi control over mining and other natural resources. If the government had taken proper care and helped aadivasis to acquire space and not to strengthen aadivasi middlemen in the region, they would have not faced this scenario. Today, there is so must of mistrust that any action of the government is taken as an attempt to intrude in aadivasi zone. In the crisis of mutual trust, it is the Maoists who dominate and their propaganda work hence to maintain their hegemony they bring threat, intimidation and different stories of government efforts to control the natural resources. It was time for sincere thinking where government could have sought to talk with aadivasi leadership in the region. Who are the aadivasi leaders who government can speak? Did the government ever call for a meeting of Aadivasi social activists, academics, leaders, panchayat leaders from different part of the country including Chhattishgarh to discuss their issues? You do not do and the result is today aadivasi leadership in all these ‘revolutionary’ Zones is in the hands of non aadivasis and if we see their track record they have systematically eliminated all those leaders who differ with them and were a challenge to them.
To say that Naxals or Maoist ‘revolutionaries’ are isolated bunch is ridiculous and therefore we need to look into the political aspect of these killings. Simply because the killings are done by Naxals or Maoist does not make it beyond political conspiracy. There are chances of these killings are political as Naxals or Maoists are too smart and take part in the political activities. They know well who to eliminate and who to protect and politicians across spectrum need them and that is the only reason why they are surviving. The failure of political leadership and the criminalization of our political structure actually help the Naxals very well. It is true that the aadivasis seek their help to get justice and protection but what is the alternative they are providing? Is the ‘Jan Adalat’ not like Khap Panchayat which provides instance justice to the people through various torturous ways in which people are killed.
Our crisis is bigger as those who are voices of reasoning are not liked. These are times of pamphleteers and mouthpieces and those writers and academics who live in their one particular worldview and anyone who differ is anti-people or anti national. Indians are experts in tagging people whenever they differ. Human Rights defenders have to face the worst. This is also a fact that today human rights have also become instrumental or frontal organizations for those who have no faiths in rights at all. Whenever we condemn the violence by extra state actors, we are told that you are a ‘state’ agent. Whenever a poor aadivasi is killed, he is termed as a ‘state’ agent. My question has been how come a poor aadivasi who want his right and protection from people become a state agent if he participate in NREGA or speak to a political leader. Why the Maoists want to stop my choice to vote to politicians of our choice. If they were true to their beliefs, we should have seen the best politicians in Telangana, Andhra, Odisha, and Chhattishgarh but some of the most corrupted politicians who are hand in glove with business and corporates, who exploit poor, who amassed huge land and other natural resources, still hail from these regions. Why these regions most of the people remain highly apolitical and no independent Dalit aadivasi leadership is allowed to develop so that it could contest elections. So, terming anyone who differ with you, stand in front of you become a state agent. And I have a simple question that in India extra state actors are more powerful. India is run through the constitution of Manu in reality.
Here we see how the right wing Hindutva brigade targets the Dalits, Aadivasis and Muslims through administration, media images and social oppression. In 2002 Gujarat massacre happened and the murderers came to power and became ruthless in isolating the minorities particularly the Muslims. They got the benefit of communalization and nationalization through the Ayodhya movement too. Today the same leaders are having free time in Chhattishgarh, Maharastra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh. It became their laboratory and we could not stop them. Big companies have come there and exploited people and we are witnessing the lethal cocktail of capitalism and brahmanism. Where are the revolutionaries? How many times they took on the right wing Hindutva nationalism which is a big threat to the country and today our corporate and business are ready to thrust those forces on us and such incidents only strengthen them.
No, they won’t speak against communalism as it is not their issue. They will call for poll boycott and what is the result of these poll boycotts. Jharkhand, Chhattishgarh are gone to non aadivasis and Hindutva forces? What have they done for stopping this? How can the top leadership of the Maoist speak against migrants’ leadership when their top leadership itself is exported from Andhra Pradesh? Speaking against Indian state is easier than challenging the brahmanical system which is the ‘extra state actor’ in India and root cause of our evils but then when the top echelon of the Maoist leadership hail from the brahmanical customs then what to expect from them.
If over 200 districts of India are under Maoist influence then who stops them to form a political party and contest elections. If they think they have the people’s support without the intimidation of their AK 47 then why not influence the political process. But once you pick up guns don’t expect the state to respond to you with roses. And this is the most troublesome part. In that they have killed a generation of tribal who should have grown to participate. Yes, the government is responsible, our political parties are responsible and like the tribal of Bastar we all are victim of this system and need to clean it. We need to do so but what way?
I have no sympathy with those in power. They have failed us. They have used the bogey and used the Naxals. The doublespeak of Hindutva gangs and their sympathizers in media is visible. Everybody is busy with the Indian Paisa league and the amount of corruption in it. Why has the loudmouth in the TV chat room kept quiet on the issue? Will he ask question to Chhattishgarh government and its abject failure to protect the political opponents? The ‘future’ of India tweeted that ‘we must fight this battle together’. The Ayodhya Sarathi said he is pained and we have to fight together. Everybody wants to fight against it. All of them will enjoy this in the forest but it is the common secularist who faces the intimidation from state. It is they who are victimized in their daily lives and human rights become dirty word.
Why are we silent? A few years back, I happened to meet a general in a conference who said that the Maoists are ‘our own people’. And that explain the things and mindset. What do you mean by ‘our own people’? Why are the Kashmiris not our ‘own people’. Yes, if this big operation was done by some Hizbul or any XYZ organization in the name of Islam, do you think, we should be watching or debating IPL or satta bazar on our TV? Do you think that we would have been these subdued responses? The entire country would have been tense and every Muslims would have been asked to show ‘Vandemataram’ on his chest. This is a reality. Since a majority of the leadership from Naxals are ‘well educated’ and hail from ‘good’ upper caste families hence they are our own. Their biggest certificate is that they are not ‘Muslims’ and their name is not ‘Khan’ hence the state apparatus in India protect them. It protects them for political purposes. Political leaders settle scores through them and therefore tribal or aadivasis are just a tool, they are sandwiched between the brahmanical Indian state and brahmanical Moists, both don’t want solution. Indian state want to handover tribal land to big industries and the Maoists want to continue with it.
If both are true to resolve the issue then the Indian state must begin with a complete moratorium on the land dealing or forest resources from Chhattishgarh first. Let the Maoist surrender with their arms and let the government promise to rehabilitate them and later let the government withdraw paramilitary forces from the region in the name of operation green hunt. Let all the tribal who are arrested in the name of being Maoists be released. Let Indian state show its sign of magnanimity by announcing some non-military measures in specific term and time bound programme. We have no issue with the issues raised by Maoists and there are people who are fighting for their rights, land and water all over the country and they still have faith in Indian constitution and its apparatus despite all our disappointments. The Muslims in India despite all victimization still believe in the constitution and fighting their battle politically. The Dalits who were the worst suffers of the brahmanical system are fighting for their rights and have got their space too. Our difference with them is purely on their methodology. The left movement is weakening in this country because they failed to win over the heart of dalits, aadvasis, muslims and others. They did not allow the leadership from these sections of society and hence the space was occupied by the rightwing forces. It is a great challenge. India cannot be handed over to rightwing nationalist. It is battle for all of us to unite and organise politically. The secular space is under severe threat. The Maoist threat and violence will only strengthen the militarized minds in the bureaucracy who will make a war cry. It will strengthen the right wing agenda of political parties and the end result would be that situation would turn more difficult for all those whose rights are violated particularly the most marginalized sections of our society whether it is Dalits or Aadivasis or Muslims and other backward communities. The challenge is bigger and it need a comprehensive political response as the arms response will only give state a right to enter in those zones and kill people in the name of these ideologies. It has happened till date and it will further marginalize the people in these zones.