Peoples’ Interest: The Cutthroat Compassionate.

Maoism/ Left-wing extremism is “the gravest internal security threat faced by the nation, No quarter can be given to those who have taken upon themselves to challenge the authority of the Indian state and the fabric of our democratic polity, But we cannot overlook the fact that many areas in which such extremism flourishes are under-developed and many of the people, mainly poor tribals, who live in these areas have not shared equitably in the fruits of development, It is incumbent upon us to ensure that no area of our country is denied the benefits of our ambitious developmental programmes,“.
…the state uses the labels of ‘Maoist’ or ‘Naxal’ to oppress entire populations so as to silence protests against neo-liberal policies. “Just being inhabitants of these hills makes us Naxalites for the state,” “By branding them Naxals, the state lets loose police and paramilitary forces who in collusion with local administrative officers and money lenders arrest anyone who raises his voice against unlawful land grab or corruption. Their only agenda is to hand over this land to corporates,“.
Maoist’s brutal slaying of some of the top Congress leaders from Chhattisgarh State among 27 killed on 25 May has brought the barely sheathed sharpened knives out once again. Baying for the annihilation of *savage Maoists* has risen predictably into a frenzied cacophony. Shekhar Gupta’s *National Interest* probably led the pack in print media by inveighing the *The Bleeding Heartless*. Not surprisingly though, he had to beseech for the furtherance of his binary vision the presiding deity of “You are either with us, or against us”, George W Bush. “This is why we say that on the Naxal issue, the UPA’s response would confuse George Bush himself. How would his simple, maybe simplistic, and uncluttered mind deal with a situation where a government is against an enemy, but also with it? Or, forget poor Bush. How would your mind deal with it? And mine?“. Before, one turns to his “arguments”, one must first get out of the way a nasty and dirty trick he played to smear Harsh Mander, and through him others he sees as the bleeding heartless: “For nine years now, the UPA and its various elements, ranging from the prime minister to those considered close to Sonia and speaking for her, from the home ministers (I use the plural deliberately, because even the three who ran that ministry, Shivraj Patil, Chidambaram and Shinde, spoke in different voices, with the first being a pure root-causes man) to NAC members spoke at cross-purposes. One set called them a grave threat, a bunch of bandits and so on, while the other romanticised them as merely misguided, well-meaning people fighting for the tribal victims of “extractive” industries. For a full nine years, the leadership of the Congress bought this unquestioningly. It allowed, even welcomed, the embedding of the Maoist middle ground and sympathisers within its establishment, notably the NAC and the Planning Commission. Remember that one of those eight Maoists released in exchange for the abducted Malkangiri collector Vineel Krishna was A. Padma, wife of top Maoist Akkiraju Haragopal alias Ramakrishna. And she managed Aman Vedika, an orphanage run by activist and then NAC member Harsh Mander (‘At NAC member’s NGO, they wait for Padma, wife of top Maoist’, IE, February 24, 2011,“. I do not know if Mander responded to that news report in IE by Sreenivas Janyala, but he chose to respond when one of the leading lights of the media used it to advance his tirades. Gupta’s article was published on 1 June, but since Mander’s rebuttal of 3 June to IE did not appear in print until 6 June, he took to it to a popular blog site to publish it. Journalistic ethics, we are told, demand according fair opportunity for rebuttal, but that doesn’t suit “Bushism” style binary crusader’s agenda is what one now compelled to hold. When rebuttal appeared in Kafila.Org, Gupta probably had no choice but to publish it next day to save a “veneer” of journalistic respectability: A delay of 4 days could easily be blamed on this exigency or that. Mader’s statement of facts says, “In several cities, my colleagues and I are helping run 45 residential homes for the education and care of around 4,000 homeless street girls and boys. There are about 20 such homes for street boys and girls in Hyderabad… Under the name of Sirisha, a woman came to my colleagues in Hyderabad in the year 2008, saying she was estranged from her husband and only son, and was in severe depression, and that she be given the chance to live among the children so it would help her heal. She requested, initially, for the chance to live in the home and volunteer her services. In time, when a position in the same home fell vacant, she was appointed as one of the home managers because she performed her duties of child care well. No one had the faintest idea about her true identity. After more than two years with us, she applied for 10 days of leave for the first time. A few days later, we heard from the newspapers that she was Padma, second wife of a Maoist leader, and she was arrested by the police in Orissa“. I leave this unavoidable detour now and ask readers to judge for themselves who speaks the truth. Mader also unequivocally made his stand clear on “Violence”: “On the larger question of “Maoist sympathies”, I have absolutely none. I have consistently written and spoken about my unambiguous and resolute opposition to all forms of violence, including Maoist violence. I have strongly and consistently disagreed with those, among them my liberal friends, who in any way romanticise or even indirectly rationalise their resort to violence, and those who suggest that their violence is justified because of the structural violence of poverty, exploitation and state violence. I feel that there is no such thing as altruistic violence. Violence, even when deployed in the name of the oppressed, ultimately brutalises all, and the oppressed suffer the most. The only legitimate instruments to fight injustice, in my opinion, are non-violence and democracy“.
The short form thesis of The Bleeding Heartless in essence is:
  • For 9 years UPA government at Center has waffled between Maoists are a a grave threat, a bunch of bandits and so on, to romanticising them as merely misguided, well-meaning people fighting for the tribal victims of “extractive” industries.
  • Chiefs of armed forces should shut their gob and stop saying they won’t send their forces to fight the Maoists, because their troops can’t be seen fighting their own countrymen. Because are not the Kashmiris whom you’ve been fighting with pride and where armed forces have built the largest and most powerful military command in India’s history; and the Nagas, the Manipuris and other tribal insurrectionists of the Northeast, to fight whom, sort of permanently, you have set up an entire counter-insurgency corps in Dimapur, Indian citizens. 
  • The lives of police and paramilitary personnel should be treated on par with those of Armed forces personnel; colour of the uniform shouldn’t matter. But this doesn’t happen at all: “Why does the air chief get away with his contemptuous dismissal of the perfectly valid demand that there be a proper inquiry into how his crew fled from their downed helicopter, leaving an injured comrade in it? He was from the police, you see“.
  • Maoists sympathisers, like Dr. Binayak Sen (and presumably Harsh Mander) should not be let into establishment’s tents. “But must you appoint him (Sen) in a key Planning Commission committee (steering committee on health, drafting their 12th Five Year Plan)? Gentle, children’s doctor, yes. But he is a convicted Maoist sympathiser. Bringing him inside the tent like this, what message are you sending out to the security forces, to the police and intelligence agencies and people of India?“.

In his hurry to paint himself only savior of paramilitary, he has alleged that Army generals take pride in fighting “Kashmiris” or they would like to permanently fight insurgencies in the North East; and even went over the top to say they showed, “poorly concealed delight that the paramilitary forces were getting their “comeuppance”“. Let the army brass answer these blatantly intemperate remarks made on purpose, but the fact remains that army deployment to fight inherited from British North East insurgencies, a loosely administered area till then, was a “purely temporary” measure. Army went there too on the orders of civilian masters. Later, same situation came to pass in Kashmir, but not though in Punjab at the height of militant Khalistan movement. Even after so many decades -barring resolution of Mizo insurgency- the “purely temporary” measure continues unabated. Why blame the army for “permanency”?, if the government doesn’t want them, send them to barracks. I guess they will be only too happy. Who wants to do a thankless job that their political masters brought upon them and for which they are not constituted or trained. Military is to keep India’s borders safe from external aggression. It is the development paradigm followed by the ruling class that wholesomely benefits few, enriches some more, but oppresses most, which has fractured the nation and brought “borders” within. Military that is trained to use maximum force against an external enemy is patently unsuited to deal with rebellious home populations.

Let us start with where one can agree. In a *Constitutional Democracy* (true import of this phrase will be become clear at the end), all human lives have to be treated with equal care and respect. Every human life is to be held so sacred that no life State would take except through due process of law and for compelling reasons. Anybody’s life is no less valuable than that of a paramilitary personnel, whose life is too no less valuable then that of a military soldier. This should readily meet all around approval. While such pious platitudes bubble forth in death, in life, when it matters most, State does treat its paramilitary forces most shabbily compared to its military soldiers. They are shunted around the country without remorse, without preparation, without proper accommodation, without medical care, without local intelligence, without proper kitchens, and without even adequate leave. Their predicament is caught movingly in the words of P Sainath, “How agonized we are about how people die. How untroubled we are by how they live“. One of the reasons why paramilitary took such heavy casualties is that they are simply offered as “canon fodder” in these internecine wars sans proper plan, training, and clear objectives. That was also the reason why Congress leaders could be so easily killed, though it was well known some have been in Maoist’s cross hair for long. That said about crocodile tears shed over paramilitary blood, what about the blood of adivasis? Less than a week ago before the ambush of Congress convoy, paramilitary forces claimed to have killed 8 Maoists in “fierce encounter”. Within 2 days of the encounter BJP Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh had to buy peace by offering compensation of 5 lakhs each to the kin of killed “Maoists”, and center matched it with additional 3 lakhs each. Why would BJP and UPA pay compensation to “Maoists”? It was tacit but shameful acknowledgement by the government that there was neither an “encounter” nor were there “Maoists” killed.   Unarmed villagers of Ehadsameta had gathered at night to celebrate an important tribal Beej Pondum festival. The truth came out thanks to reporters like Ashutosh Bhardwaj of Indian Express, whose editor Gupta is. Almost an year earlier in the same district another 17 Adivasis -unarmed and innocent of Maoists- were gunned down by paramilitary force. Surely Gupta reads his own paper. Didn’t he value the life of these tribals, our countrymen? Wasn’t this news of “National interest” as much as the death of Congress politicians? Or that is decided by who is the killer? Then why did he still hold a deafening silence? The “bleeding heartless” on the other hand have been unequivocally condemning violence of the State and of the Maoists. This shamefully exposes where “the Cutthroat Compassionate”, likes of Gupta, reside in this *asymmetrical constitutional democracy* and what the true  foundations of their discourse.
{Large portion of the post was lost here because of some malfunction of blooger}
{I am publishing the post as it is due to inability right now to rewrite}
The following poem about cola miners sums up the situation of Adivasis and in general poor of India, who have to face the prospect of being trodden by the wheels of the juggernaut of development with little mercy from State or the “innocent bystanders”.
{A portion of post was lost here too}
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One Response to “Peoples’ Interest: The Cutthroat Compassionate.”

  1. Sadanand Patwardhan Says:

    It was heartening to know that Lt Gen Prakash Katoch, retired, showed proper and superior understanding of Maoist insurgency than the cheap potshots, which editor in chief of Indian express took at the Army brass. quote Quoting the Constitution that Law and Order is a State subject, the Centre has washed off its hands beyond dishing out more and more Central Armed Police Force (CAPF) battalions and intelligence tidbits by the Intelligence bureau. Concurrently, the Centre has deliberately failed to implement Schedules 5 and 6 of the Constitution with respect to the Forest Act and Land Ceiling respectively. Schedule 5 of the Constitution requires Tribal participation in management of forests and forest produce including mining activities but this is ignored because of the politician-mafia nexus involving lakhs of crores in mining (both legal and illegal). Though the Government has a Ministry of Tribal Affairs, it is obviously ineffective or part of the politician-mafia nexus. Schedule 6 requires implementation of the Land Ceiling, which is grossly lacking. For example, in a State like Andhra Pradesh, there are scores and scores of landlords who own anything from 2000 to 8000 acres or more of land. The Governor, who represents the President of India (Constitutional Head India), is supposed to ensure implementation of the Constitution. However, in Andhra Pradesh, the Governor has abdicated this responsibility and has left it to the Chief Minister who does not move one finger because of vote-bank politics. Ironically, Andhra Pradesh is a Congress Governed State. Aside from ideology (involving small cross section) the Maoists dissent is about land, forests and gross and lack of governance but greed of money and vote-bank politics of the hierarchy deters taking remedial steps. The States have little capacity to fight the Maoists – no police reforms have been undertaken pan India and CRPF provisioned not capable enough either.unquoteFor more read:

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