Sukma reminds us: A two level approach to kill Naxalism
‘25’ That is the number of valuable assets we lost a few days ago in a naxal ambush in Sukma, Chhattisgarh.
What’s worse? The ambush was not first of its kind.
The naxals operates in 60 districts in the backward (and coincidentally mineral rich) states of West Bengal, Jharkhand, Bihar, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. Chhattisgarh has been the epicenter of the conflict with a bastion being formed in over a decade.
There is a burning topic of debate on whether to use strict military action against the insurgency or work on their roots and burn the sheer idea with progressive tools like development and ensuring justice.
Why not take the best of two? The two measures are interdependent after all.
The Sukma ambush was aimed at the road building block of the CRPF. There are no 2 opinions about the fact that the left wing violence has been detrimental to the progress of the affected area. Stalling development, deprivation of the basic infrastructural, health and educational requirements ensures a proper recruit for the wing.
Naxalism is a disease rooted in our country. When a doctor offers a treatment, he goes for a two level approach:
- To kill the symptoms, providing immediate relief which is often transient.
- To kill the cause , ensuring against the relapse of the disease
So the same strategy is required for completely eradicating Naxalite Maoist insurgency from the country.
One needs guns to shoot down men with guns. That is how we get the symptomatic relief.
Many propose the use of army against the naxal maoist insurgency. But the show of strength is not all. Since the year 1999, 3253 naxal hardliners have been killed but at a heavy cost of 2672 trained police and paramilitary personnel and numerous civilians. One thing is obvious that the naxals are more accustomed to the forest terrain. They understand their land and exploit it well to their use (in guerrilla warfare for instance).
When we go for the assault there are certain shortcomings we need to overcome
- Use of proper and accurate intelligence: not having prior information about an operation of this magnitude involving hundreds of naxalites is a big intelligence failure. Coining on the barbaric naxal regime, the administration needs to garner local support.
- Technology: This is something the other side lacks. Be it drones, unmanned patrolling cars, GPS or better connectivity, they sure make good weapons.
- Coordination between the organizations: the wings of the military, paramilitary, police, intelligence and the administration need to work in synchronization. The top brass is well aware of the large ego problem between the wing leaders which needs to be set aside for viable results.
Also, one needs to be cautious with military use. There is no way we can afford another Kashmir like problem.
Once the gun rests, the focus will be on how to prevent its recurrence. What caused them to pick up guns in the very first place?
There happens to be some big glitches in the Indian social structure
- Feudalism (present day caste system) still holds prominence in the Indian society. Deprive a group, humiliate them and they will turn violent.
- Education: literacy in the red corridor is way behind the national level. Education not only provides for a better employment options but also for a better way of living.
- Development: despite being rich in minerals and coal, the region is devoid of basic infrastructure. Rural area requires proper allocation of infrastructure.
- Corruption at any level also incites public anger.
- Injustice, which is quite prevalent there, induces anarchy. People deprived of justice tend to look for alternate system.
- Marginalization: measures like reservations in education and job don’t reach the needy, keeping the marginalized at bay.
Kill these social evils and we uproot naxalism.
Naxalism has already been described as the biggest internal security threat for the country 10 long years ago by the then prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh.
On a positive side we have managed to bring down naxalism significantly. Naxal influence has reduced to 60 districts and 8 states and casualty has gone down considerably.
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Originally published at indianspectator.com on April 29, 2017.