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Monday, June 09, 2014  

Anti-Maoist Operation faces counter attack by Red Rebels: Support of Local Communities would be the key to Success

"The tribal and other communities living in the Maoist stronghold forests of India are apprehensive about the anti-Maoist operations pursued by the Government. They believe that the innocent people will only be the victims of such operations. That’s why tribals of Orissa’s Malkangiri District staged a rally to stop the anti-Maoist operation in the district. In such a situation of confusions and apprehensions, the governments at the centre and the states must take the communities into confidence first and initiate a drive to mobilize the mass in its favour to get full support from them."
Basudev Mahapatra
   

The Red Rebels are on a war front to counter the operation initiated by the government to combat armed Maoist Revolution. The primary targets of the Red rebels are state armed forces and central paramilitary forces deployed to pursue anti-Maoist operations. This week, the red rebels killed 86 Jawans – 11 in Orissa’s Koraput District and 75 in Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada District. During February this year also the rebels killed 25 Jawans in West Bengal. Over 132 Jawans have been killed by the Maoists in 2010 till date.

Looking at the growing threat from Maoist insurgency across the country, Union Government of India and the provincial governments have started joint operation to curb the armed movement run by the Maoists. But it’s just before the operation launches in the Maoist infested areas, the Red Armed Cadres have almost thrown challenge to the armed forces engaged in the operation.

And, the scale of damage caused by the Maoists indicates that the Government and the Combating forces have still not taken the issue seriously and do not act with a full proof strategy. Just after the Dantewada Mayhem, Union Home Minister P Chidambaram admitted to the fact that there must be some serious flaws in the strategy or the operation.

The Dantewada incident shocked everybody. The sympathizers of the Maoist movement are now questioned about the logic behind the massacre. People now seek strong action from the Government. But what should be the action – Dialogue or War?

In his personal facebook wall, NDTV Correspondent Sampad Mahapatra raised a discussion asking writer-activist Arundhati Roy to educate him and other members in discussion with her views on the options open for the Government of India as well as the Maoists post-Dantewada massacre. In the page, Mahapatra foresees a war by the state against the Maoists as an inevitable fall-out telling that, ‘As far as I can see, post-Dantewada, the Government of India is left with little options than to mount a war of sorts against the armed Maoists. If it does not, it runs the risk of losing its legitimacy and the authority to rule the country. An armed insurrection, whatever be the provocation or rationale, is bound to invite an armed response from the State. The proposals of peace, negotiation and reconciliation with Maoists put forward by a number of well-meaning people including those who are completely against violence appear terribly outdated after the Dantewada massacre’.

The statements by Union Home Minister P Chidambaram also suggest that Government would take a similar stand and strengthen its operation against armed Maoist Rebels. Even Chidambaram has cited at the possibility of using Air Force in the operation.

Mahapatra’s view has been supported by many but a few also have a different opinion. Responding to comments posted as part of the discussion initiated by Sampad Mahapatra, his Kolkata counterpart Monideepa Banerjee opined, ‘Why am I reminded of the near war hysteria post 26/11? I agree with Sampadji that the government now HAS to act or risk its legitimacy being questioned. But what kind of action? Carpet bombing from the air? I think not. The collateral damage would be just too huge. I think the government has strike a balance between tough action against the Maoists and some kind of dialogue with the people the Maoists claim to represent. Somehow, that balance has to be found. And when I say tough action, I don't mean security forces blundering into death traps laid by a canny foe.’

Umi Daniel, a social activist and Thematic Head of Aide et Action South Asia still believes that, Peace, reconciliation, progress is the need of the hour. ‘We can’t afford to such bloodshed and killings of our citizens by our own people. We need our peace loving denizen to campaign for peace and harmony as key to solving differences and dissent. NO more KILLINGS please!! No war, no green or red hunt!!’ As Gandhi said, ‘an eye for an eye will make the whole world blind’.

Not only Umi, many of the social activists and human right activists believe that War or a fierce counter operation would not be a right option for the government to go about. However, the arguements for peace and negotiation doesn’t seem relevant to many of the participating members who rather ask, 'Who are the Maoists and who is their leader with whom whoever can still have a dialogue? And how many dialogues do you need?’

But there are still doubts that a fierce attack would bring the desired result in curbing Maoist extremism. Of course, to the relief of the lot who are concerned about the tribals and other communities living in the areas that are considered Maoist infested and are chosen for anti-Maoist operations, P Chidambaram has come up with a statement confirming that ‘only Maoists will be Targeted’. But, who will ensure that? Who will identify the Maoists for the forces to target?

It’s only the people or communities living in the Maoist stronghold forest regions who can help the government and its forces to trace the Maoist Camps or Maoist Rebels. The tribal and other communities living in the Maoist stronghold forests of India are apprehensive about the anti-Maoist operations pursued by the Government. They believe that the innocent people will only be the victims of such operations. That’s why tribals of Orissa’s Malkangiri District staged a rally to stop the anti-Maoist operation in the district.

In such a situation of confusions and apprehensions, the governments at the centre and the states must take the communities into confidence first and initiate a drive to mobilize the mass in its favour to get full support from them. This requires regular dialogue with the communities and organizations working with the communities. Otherwise, the operations will be like searching things in the dark. In such a case, the Maoist rebels would find their safe hideouts and many innocent tribals and people living in the forests would be the victims of atrocities by Police and armed forces.

However, it's with or without taking the local communities into confidence, a battle seems to be evident as the Government of India is almost in a fix where it needs to act strongly and promptly to establish its legitimacy to rule over the country.

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