• kewal sethi

how to face the naxals

this is an article from 2009 but the ideas still hold good.

How to face the naxals

Kewal Krishan Sethi


After the massacre of the 76 police officials, the nation has finally woken up to the real nature of the naxal threats. There are cries of revenge and of taking strict action. The shortcomings which led to the horrible tragedy are being highlighted. There is talk of army and air force being called in.


One can recall similar outbursts following major attacks by the naxalites and the jihadis on earlier occasions. It was followed by going back to the old shell after a while till the next big event forces us to repeat the exercise. Meantime the politicians try to score brownie points against each other. Very recently, our Home Minister was showing off his courage vis a vis the Chief Minister of West Bengal by visiting Lal Garh. There were even reports of his breaking security cordon to mix with the locals. (Many of us believe that the locals were only secret police in mufti).


But it is hoped that this tragedy will make a difference to the policy towards the naxalites. For a change BJP has not demanded resignation of the Home Minister and the Chief Minster of West Bengal has suggested joint action rather then polemics. We hope that Congress will reciprocate and this message will percolate to the states also. We hope that Andhra Pradesh will also join in the campaign against the naxal forces. It will be recalled that TDP wanted to go strong against the naxalites. It is widely rumoured that these efforts were sabotaged by the successor government and the naxalites reciprocated by ceasing to have violent activities in Andhra Pradesh. In return they got safe sanctuaries in the state from where they could conduct operations in the neighbouring states, two of which happened to be, to the glee of the ruling part of Andhra Pradesh, ruled by the opposition parties. It is to be hoped that Union Home Minister will now put an end to this strategy and strike at the base of the naxal movement.


Apart from the training of the para military forces, which every one is now talking off (thus indirectly blaming them for bringing destruction upon themselves without blaming the authorities who were reluctant to arrange for such training), more concrete action is required in terms of weapons and mobility. It has been rightly been called a war, a war against the State. It should be treated as such. In a wartime, the sympathizers of the enemy are dealt with severely. It is time for the detention and punishment of those who seek to lower the morale of the fighting forces in the name of human rights. Far too may persons (including the press and television media) present these so called activists in the role of the saviors of the human rights, in order to appear to be progressive and liberals. All that these activists are doing is to prevent a whole hearted drive against the naxal forces. They are behaving like the fifth columnists and should be treated as such. The first thing is to shun them publicly as the enemies of the peace loving people and as the friends of those who are committing atrocities in the name of social justice. They should be boycotted by the press and the television media. Where it is felt that their liberty is dangerous to the peace, they should be detained, if necessary, without trial. It would be recalled that United States has detained many of the Bath party members and Taliban on suspicions of being in favour of the enemy. There is nothing wrong in depriving a few persons of their attempt to demoralize the police forces by calling for enquiries against any action where the police forces succeed in operations against the naxal forces or the jihadis.


Another factor in the war against the naxal forces or the jihadis is the knee jerk reaction to any event. The politicians rush in to announce ex gratia compensation for those killed or wounded in the action. If it happens to be a opposition ruled state, the union government announces its own package of liberal compensation to mock the other party. There should be, and I believe there is, a settled policy on the amount to be paid to those killed in action. So we should stop making these token statements which only mock those who lose their life or limb in action.


Any major, or for that matter, medium event is followed by the comments that forces are being rushed to capture those responsible for the atrocity. And the forces are rushed post haste. Since it is a war, such reactions betray lack of planning and result in more casualties than necessary. It should be accepted that there will be losses in the war. If the war is to be won, the results of a battle should not occasion panic response. Many believe that the present tragedy was also the result of the rushing in of reinforcement without considering other factors. There should be a long term strategy aiming at discovering and destroying the enemy at the time and place of our choosing.


A warning to the public need be given. In a war, there is bound to be some collateral damage. It ma be useful to remember that when the terrorists detained over 2000 persons in a theatre in Russia, the forces made a charge into the building killing off or capturing the terrorists. In the action, some innocent victims - the persons held hostage by them -were killed. That possibility was always there and yet it did not deter the authorities from taking action as deemed fit.


There are those who speak of the need of the development of the areas arguing that poverty, deprivation, exploitation, corruption, bad governance are the root causes of the strength of the naxalites. These should be tackled and the naxalites should be won over. This has to be seen in right perspective. First to talk of these things when you are being fired upon is alright for the arm chair commentators but not for the field authorities. How can you take up development projects when you can not even enter the area without endangering your life? It should be borne in mind that naxals are not there to help the tribals and the deprived persons. Has any body heard of any development project, a school, a hospital, an industrial unit in so called liberated zone? The only aim of the naxal forces is to capture power through violent means. The deprived sections of the population are their fodder. They are to be projected by their sympathizers as the defense shield to prevent concerted efforts by the armed forces. They - naxals or the so called ativists - do not have their welfare at their heart. It is not to say that the tribals and the deprived sections are with the enemy. They are also their victims, forced to go without the development projects in their area lest it weaken the hold of the naxal forces. It is in order to help them that you have to neutralize the naxal forces. India as a whole is on the development trajectory and the tribal areas are no exception. But we are not confronted with a few disgruntled persons. We are up against an enemy whose objectives are different. It does not matter that their philosophy has proved wrong time after time. People in none of the so called proletariat states have shown any real economic progress under them. There may be show pieces like sending a vehicle to the moon but the common man is no more happier than in the so called capitalist states. We should get on with the job of securing these areas for the development projects by eliminating those against the development of these areas.


It is to be hoped that we have learnt our lessons from the latest tragedy and we are not looking forward to another such event to mouth usual platitudes designed to help nobody and meant only for deceiving ourselves. That will be the real tribute to the martyrs of this tragedy and a fitting reply to the perpetrators of these crimes and their fifth columnists.

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