The nation is galloping with a myriad of problems in the contemporary times. While the colossal issues of poverty, illiteracy, and unemployment continue to rattle the nation there have been movements associated with regional imbalances and backwardness in development. Such situations have been witnessed in North-Eastern parts and the ill famous ‘Red Corridor’ of the nation. The ‘Red Corridor’ consists of the 100 districts across states like Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Bihar, and Telangana which have seen the Maoists violence. The recent attack of Maoists at Kala Pathar in Sukma district of Chhattisgarh which led to the death of 25 CRPF personnel has served as a grim reminder for the gravity of the situation. The Maoists attacks have been a regular phenomenon in the recent past with memories of the dreadful ambush at Dantewada last year still fresh. The problem of Maoist terrorism is one of the most grueling questions which continues to question both the policy of Central as well as the State governments, as regards the solution to this regional cause. The task of the administration of law and order in these districts have been that of state police along with Central paramilitary forces in the times of trouble. The attacks which primarily stems from the acute backwardness of these areas have seen the large toll of the lives of security forces in the attacks. While a vast majority of the martyrs are associated with the CRPF 74th Battalion, which was attacked on 24th April.
The history of the Maoists movement is connected with the Naxalbari Revolution of 1967 which saw the seeds of the Maoist philosophy of class conflict sown in India. It frowned upon the state establishment as perpetrators of class exploitation and anti-poor systems. While the first phase of the movement saw the spread of this cancer across the nation, careful planning and a spate of developmental schemes targeting these areas saw the restriction of the major portion of the menace to states of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha and Andhra Pradesh. Over the years, the state governments especially in Andhra Pradesh have learned to utilize funds in an appropriate manner and ensure the inclusion of the poor tribals in the developmental process as well. It has been complemented with zero tolerance towards the Maoist attacks and setting up specialized teams of the state police to tackle the new age terrorism. The ‘Greyhounds’ of Andhra Pradesh have been highly successful in their anti-Maoist operations of pushing the insurgents deeper into the forested areas. There is a visible change in the level of infrastructural development and supply of basic amenities when one enters Andhra Pradesh from the state of Jharkhand. It is ironic that the creation of the states of Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh was done on the pretext of regional upliftment, but the same has failed miserably to solve the problem. Though the state of Chhattisgarh, since its 17 years of history has seen a ruling dispensation govern for a vast majority of 12 years, the political stability has not helped the cause either. The major factor responsible for the failure of the state to solve the menace of Maoist violence has been the lack of the political will of the state governments to search for any amicable solution to this critical problems. The state government has not only failed to correct the lopsided development of the selected areas but has also not been unable to include the poor and tribal in the ambit of development. They have only relied on the Central government for the vast gamut of funds in the name of development, a majority of which falls victim to the widespread corruption and is unable to have much impact on the grassroots level.
Changed Character of Maoist Movement
The tenants of the Maoist movement which began in the late sixties have undergone a sea change from its earlier character of being philosophy driven. The nature of the movement and the cause of Maoism arising from the social philosophy of class exploitation has receded in its ideological moorings. The focus of the movement in the modern times has been more on bloodshed and attacks on state establishments than, earlier focus on intellectual learnings. The fact can also be the result of the demise of the stalwarts like Kanu Sanyal, Charu Majumdar, etc. who directed the movement in the nebulous years. The present creed of leaders doesn’t have that depth either in philosophy nor has the patience to build up the mass momentum for the desired social change. The result has been the focus on killing more people rather than creating awareness among the masses for the need to revolt. The brutal killings of the innocent villagers on the fear of being informers and the lootings of villagers to finance the movement of smacks of banditry rather than social upliftment of the people. The thrust of the government on targeted development of the Maoist affected regions have eroded the social base of the movement with villagers and tribals realizing the importance of being the part of the mainstream and are disillusioned by the utopian struggle of Maoist for the creation of a classless society. The frustration of the Maoists could be gauged from the fact that the 24th April attack at Sukma was conducted by more than 300 insurgents at a battalion of 150 CRPF men. They have also realized that the end of the movement is near and thus, have resorted to mass attacks rather than earlier tactics of guerrilla warfare.
Many Dimension of ‘Maoist Problem’
The entire problem of Maoism in India has a multitude of layers to it and must be looked at, in a combination of these forces. From the point of view of politics, it is a reflection of long-term state inability to align a vast majority of the people to the mainstream to provide them adequate benefits for the overall development. It is also a response of the innocent tribals whose lands have been taken away by the state government on the pretext of infrastructure projects and mining activities without adequate provisions for their compensations. Another facet to the same has been the sly brainwashing of the gullible peasants by the Maoist leaders to provoke them to take up arms against the state and fight an impossible war. The acute corruption and the police atrocities in these areas have only accentuated the amplitude of the problem. The inability of the state to provide even the basic facilities of primary education, healthcare and Public Distribution System (PDS) for the food grains has been the chief factor in forcing the poor to take part in this violent struggle for survival. It is a blot on the entire nation that in spite of the fact India is one of the biggest economies in the world, some citizens are still tempted to resort to weapons (albeit under the influence of unscrupulous leaders and foreign funding) in order to attain their just share in the phenomenon of development.
Response of the Government
The Central Government in its response to the recent attacks on CRPF has been both prudent and calibrated. The government has wisely negated the need to deploy army for the counter-Maoist operations in the nation. Though the army is better equipped both in terms of weaponry and training to tackle the Maoist violence, but the rational against their use is two folds. Firstly, the fact that Indian Government has consistently termed the Maoist problem to be an ‘internal problem’ calls for the use of the paramilitary forces and not the penultimate state force. The insistence of it being an ‘internal disturbance’, also negates the need to point out the involvement of any foreign power towards the same at the international arena. Secondly, the Maoists insurgents are essentially Indian citizens who have been disgruntled to such any extent that they have resorted to arms to attain justice. The use of Indian Army against its own citizens in various states might heighten the present problem. The government has rightfully scaled up the funding of the road and bridge development projects along with the railway project to connect the marginalized sections of those areas with the mainstream. The state governments have also been advised to root out corruption and ensure time-bound completion of the projects. The Indian government has since 2009 followed a policy of development and maximum possible restraint in order to win over the poor and impoverished sections of the state.
The Road Ahead…
The recent attacks have been a big setback for the entire nation in its quest to solve the Maoist problem, but the government is determined to change the present state of affairs by its allocation of about Rs. 3,270 crores for the development works in the Maoist-affected areas of Chhattisgarh. These projects have been aimed at bringing the people closer to the phenomenon of ‘development’ thereby raising their standard of living. The connectivity with road and railways will pave way for the social infrastructure like primary schools, dispensaries, post offices, and banks. It will increase the visibility of the state machinery and reap the benefits of social inclusion for the people. The road projects like 56 km Dornapal-Jaguarundi route and 78 km Sukma-Bhejji is bound to bring about a sea change. The railways have recently started Jagdalpur-Vishakhapatman link with 24-hour work on the ongoing Rs.3500 crore Jagdalpur-Raipur stretch. These projects will ensure that the decades of isolation is removed and people benefit due to increased trade opportunities and lower prices of goods. The Central government is also planning to upgrade the training and equipment for the paramilitary forces to raise their operational strength. The demonetization has struck at the terror funding of the Maoist problem and the cadres are suffering from cash crunches. It is hoped that the political will and holistic development of the backward areas are able to bring them at par with the rest of the nation. If the poor and marginalized villagers of Maoist-hit areas are able to lead a life of safety and attain social development through concerted state efforts and transparency in the system, the Maoist problem could be lead to rest for the perpetuity.