People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


Vol. XXXIII

No. 30

July 26, 200

Maoists And BJP Regime In Chhattisgarh

 

Sanjay Parate

 

THE state of Chhattisgarh adjoins Jharkhand, Orissa, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh. The Maoists are active in this whole area, and their activities have grown manifold after the merger of the People’s War Group (PWG) and the Maoists Coordination Committee (MCC). To commit a crime in Chhattisgarh and run away to an adjoining state or to commit a crime in an adjoining state and run away to Chhattisgarh has always been easy for these elements. They have mostly been targeting innocent citizens or lower level government officials or police personnel in the name of “fighting the system.” This is the real face of their revolutionary demagogy.

 

STATE GOVT

VS NAXALITES

The loss of credibility of the bourgeois-landlord system, the lack of political will in the Congress and the BJP to fight these elements politically, the bankrupt policy of their governments to rely on administrative measures to suppress these elements by sheer force, and the extreme discontent among the tribal people of this area against the government and administration --- these are the main factors that gave the Maoists a chance to entrench themselves in Chhattisgarh.

Whatever character this movement might have in the beginning, today these elements are nothing but lumpen anti-socials and dacoit gangs aiming to spread terror among the people and illegally extort money from them. As the successive governments of the Congress and BJP have totally failed to provide security to the common tribal and other people, the latter have no option but to pretend support to the Maoists. The BJP government has gone a step ahead and is conducting an armed struggle against a section of the tribal people, in the name of fighting the naxalites. It is thus that the state machinery is engaged in barbarically violating the people’s human rights on a large scale.   

In sum, while the Maoists have been hampering the growth of the democratic movement in the state, the BJP government has enacted black laws to crush the naxalites and has conducted anti-tribal campaigns like the Salva Judam. What the Maoists and the bourgeois-landlord governments have done in common is that they have severely curtailed the “democratic space” in the state. The actions of the successive state governments have only provided dubious legitimacy to the Maoist activities.

According to a report of the ministry of home affairs, the country witnessed 1591 incidents of Maoist violence in 2008, and Chhattisgarh alone accounted for 620 (or 39 per cent) of these cases. These 620 incidents claimed the life of 157 innocent citizens and 85 security personnel. In fact, in the last five years, more people in these two categories have lost their lives due to the Maoist violence than the Maoists have themselves lost. (See the table alongside.)

 

HUMAN RIGHTS

VIOLATIONS

Apart from the state’s police force, 35 battalions of security forces have been deployed in Chhattisgarh. But they have utterly failed to contain the Maoist violence but have demonstrated their ‘efficiency’ in violating the human tights of the people and in perpetrating fake encounters. The result is that the presence of these forces has only created new tensions in the civil society.

These days, the Lalgarh area of West Bengal is a pet theme in the media in Chhattisgarh, and they are linking the events here with the ‘failure’ of the Left Front government over there. The BJP chief minister, Dr Raman Singh, has been baselessly accusing the West Bengal government of supporting the Maoists. But the reality is that the South Bastar area of Chhattisgarh has itself been a ‘Lalgarh’ for the last several years. The administration and political leaders have no reach there and the Maoists are running a parallel government here. They are extorting money not only from the contractors, traders and officers but also from Congress and BJP leaders.

The BJP government has devised a campaign, called Salva Judam, with the support of a section of the Congress leadership, and the ostensible aim is to rouse people’s consciousness against naxalism. This term from the Gondvi dialect means “collective hunt,” but the state government is propagating this campaign as a ‘peace drive.’ In its essence, it is an anti-tribal campaign and is seeking to pit one section of the tribal mass against another.   

Children have to suffer from the tussle between the Maoists and the state government. The former have organised a “Bal Sangham” (Children’s Association) and are imparting training to its members in armed combat, in the name of taking their ‘revolutionary struggle’ ahead. On the other hand, the BJP government has recruited hundreds of minors as Special Police Officers (SPOs) in its Salva Judam game and armed them with guns. Both sides are thus violating the concerned international covenants and agreements.

Many of the anti-social elements, who earlier collaborated with the Maoist gangs in extortion and similar activities, are now assisting the Salva Judam in its depredations. The result is that their illegal activities are now taking place under the patronage of the state government, leaders and administration. The Maoists have suffered a setback only in this regard.

 

DOUBLE

THREAT

In Chhattisgarh, a drive is on to get villages evacuated on a large scale, in order to provide legitimacy to the Salva Judam campaign. The plea being advanced is that the Maoists are targeting the common people and their houses and villages. To an extent, this is true. But the BJP government has dismally failed to protect the tribal people in their houses and villages. Salva Judam activists have, on a large scale, perpetrated attacks upon the tribal houses and villages, vandalised them, and committed rapes and murders, so that the tribals feel compelled to evacuate their villages and live in camps. This is the state government’s way to create a sort of legitimacy for its so-called drive against the Maoists.

As of today, according to government data, about 650 villages of South Bastar have been totally evacuated and more than 50,000 tribals are perforce living in ‘relief camps.’ The condition in these camps is extremely pathetic. While they lack even the minimum amenities, the state government has not been able to provide minimum protection to these camps either. Taking advantage of this situation, Maoists have launched several attacks on these camps and the nearby police stations, killing several tribals and SPOs. However, instead of frontally facing these gangs, the security forces have adopted the tactic of advancing while using the SPOs as their shields. Afraid because of the double threat from the Maoists as well as the security forces, thousands of tribals have run away and taken shelter in the forests of Andhra Pradesh, where forest department officials are harassing them no end.       

A hard fact is that several industrial houses and multinational corporations have their eyes upon the soil of Bastar that is rich in natural resources; iron, gold, uranium, tin and bauxite are to be found here in abundant quantities. This is the reason the BJP’s state government is seeking to get all these villages evacuated, so that these lands may be handed over to the super-rich.

Another hard fact is that the state government is providing all facilities to the RSS workers to move around in these camps and impose their culture and religious beliefs upon the tribals. One may note that the state government organised the Salva Judam gangs with the planned Hindutva propaganda drive. 

The Sangh Parivar’s senseless anti-communism has never been a secret. They are trying their best to malign the CPI(M) and the CPI by laying upon their door the blame for Maoist activities, by equating them with the Maoists. However, Maoists have always been targeting the activists of these two parties. Those engaged in forging the democratic movement ahead are thus facing threats from the Maoists as well as the state government.

The BJP government simply lacks a policy about how to tackle the Maoist menace. Its sole reliance is on forcible suppression of the naxalites, and it has miserably failed in this task. The money being received from the centre in the name of fighting the Maoists is now a big source of corruption.

The need is to politically fight the Maoists if one has to contain or curb the menace. The BJP government will have to give up the drive to acquire tribal lands, develop the infrastructure in the rural and tribal areas, and properly implement the Tribal Rights Act and the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act so as to empower the tribals. Above all this, it has to give up its communal drive so that the unity of the people remains intact. Can one expect such things from the BJP and its state government?   

 

Maoist Violence: Casualties

Year

Incidents

Citizens

Security Forces

Maoists

Total

2004

352

 75

08

15

  98

2005

385

121

47

32

200

2006

715

304

84

74

462

2007

582

171

             198

60

429

2008

620

157

85

52

294

Total

           2654

828

            422

            233

           1483