‘Mission 2016-17’

Maoists no longer make news . Or they make it for wrong reasons. In recent weeks two Maoist couples surrendered to West Bengal police. And they appealed to their fellow travellers to come out and join what is called mainstream. Surrendered militants in almost all states are treated as assets to the security establishment. So former terrorists are working for paramilitary forces in Jammu and Kashmir. So are SULFA or surrendered ULFA activists in Assam. And surrendered naxalities or who are the second incarnation of Salwa Judum in Chattisgarh are playing havoc with the lives of ordinary people, more precisely tribals.

Meanwhile, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh looks jubilant enough to tell the world that ‘the backbone of terrorists and Maoists has been broken through the note ban.’ He seems to have made a distinction between terrorists and Maoists. The hard fact is that all Maoists are terrorists, but all terrorists are not Maoists. But all of them are against the administration. In the real world of insurgency and counter-insurgency this distinction makes little difference. This ‘note ban’ will have very little impact on the terrorists with foreign backing. For the Maoists this may cause temporary setback but they won’t face much problem in getting things right after some adjustments.

Not that only terrorists and Maoists are under scanner of the centre, governments in states and at the centre are not sparing even parliamentary naxalities. Recently K N Ramachandran, the General Secretary of the CPI(ML) Red Star, a parliamentary outfit on the far left was abducted by the West Bengal police. He was kept incommunicado for two days. He came all the way from Lucknow to Kolkata to meet his party workers who were leading the Bhangar anti-land grab agitation against the Central Government’s Power Grid Corporation.

If anything there is a growing consensus among the ruling parties—no matter whether their flag is red, green or saffron—to silence political dissidents with brute force. They don’t ‘bother about legal niceties’. Anyone opposing government’s anti-people policies may be branded as a terrorist or naxalite. The facade of the biggest showpiece of democracy is crumbling. After all Mr K N Ramachandran is not a terrorist. Nor is he leading violent campaigns like the CPI (Maoist) against the state. Yet he could be detained illegally while spreading false propaganda in the media.

‘Note Ban’ has affected ordinary people—the toilers, wage earners, street vendors and their like. But it has not affected the Centre’s ever expanding security budget. So they are now using drone a la America, to crush Maoist rebellion in Chattisgarh as if central India is now a war zone resembling Afghan-Pakistan border region. The Union Government of India, led by Prime Minister Nareandra Modi, plans to dismantle the Maoist free zones of Dandakaranya–Malkangiri region, within two years, through ‘Mission 2016-17’. The security forces have admitted for the first time, to using unmanned aerial vehicles to enter the free zone of Dandakaranya, and spot the hide outs of top Maoists. During 2016, 150 Maoists have been gunned down in Chattisgarh and about 250 in other states. Many leaders and senior commanders are under arrest. The elite forces of Chattisgarh and Maharashtra, which are ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), are coming together to attack Maoist zones. Central armed security forces are striking all Maoist-affected states, that include Chattisgarh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh and Telengana. Rights of adivasis have been snatched, and the government is giving mining rights to multi-national companies. Maoists are supporting adivasis in the jungles. Private mining is displacing adivasis, who rely heavily on forests, and summoning poverty. There is a World Bank guided economic model which emphasises multi-nationals in the mining sector. On 23/24 October 2016 night, while top CPI (Maoist) leaders were holding a meeting near Balimela reservoir, bordering Ramguda (Malkangiri district, Odisha), two government helicopter borne gun ships fired, and Greyhounds (Andhra Pradesh) and Special Operation Group (Odisha) sprayed bullets. More than 30 leaders and commanders of the Maoists, including seven members of their women squad were liquidated.

They are using pellets in Kashmir to blind young protesters, rather stone-pelters and now drone in Central India to cursh the tribal people’s resistance once and for all.

Vol. 49, No.33, Feb 19 - 25, 2017