Rajdhani, Naxals, Tribals & India
Ajith Vijay Kumar
The nation is shocked! How dare a bunch of tribals under the active control of Maoists, take hostage an A-list symbol of urban India as big as The Rajdhani Express
Didn’t they once think that this train is special & carries Grade-II netas and babus (Grade-I flies, you know) from the hinterland to the all-powerful Delhi?
I am shocked too; this is an open challenge to the state and we are helpless. But why are we helpless and why is this happening in our picturesque real India; where - my conditioning told me - dwelled simple people who live happily tilling the land and listening to chitrapat sangeet
on All India Radio?
People, who don’t necessarily need modern comforts and are not particular about eating out at McD or Ruby Tuesdays, people who are yet to own half of the “things”, we toil for night and day.
Wisdom says…the lesser you aspire for, the merrier you are. But then, what are they fighting for?
I don’t mean the Maoists, but I refer to the 400-500 strong group of villagers, who squatted on the tracks demanding that their leader Chatradhar Mahato be released.
The government says Mahato is a Naxal and had played an active role in mobilising people against the state. On the other hand, leading civil right activists like Medha Patkar and Mahasweta Devi claim he was only protesting against police excesses.
Whatever the truth may be, but the fact remains that his organization, People’s Committee against Police Atrocities (PCPA), had just 24 hours before the Rajdhani operation issued a statement that the PCPA is now an armed militant force.
And as it’s said, your enemy’s enemy is your friend, it’s but natural that they associate with the Maoists, who are undoubtedly, the biggest enemies of the state.
Maoists see no reason, nor do they want to be a part of the democratic process, their only aim is to seriously undermine the writ of the state by indulging in mindless acts of violence.
And it’s not just the Maoists who are to be slammed, but also all those right-thinking activists who cry from rooftops in favour of these thugs. I am one with Home Minister Chidambaram when he says, “What is the motive behind the attack on a police force that provides security to vital installations? What is the message that the CPI (Maoist) intends to convey? These are questions that we would like to put not only to the CPI (Maoist) but also to those who speak on their behalf and chastise the government.”
But what is being missed in the debate are the reasons behind the fact that that vast sections of tribal people, in central India and also elsewhere, are being pushed into an armed struggle. Also the reason behind the gaining success of the Maoists’ strategy of putting these hapless men & women on the frontline in their fight against the Indian state.
I definitely don’t believe that these tribals actually want independence, let alone understand its meaning in entirety. They are only fighting for their right to livelihood post indoctrination by the Naxal dadas & annas
However the moot question remains, do they have a right to livelihood…do they have the right to decide for themselves? The constitution says they have that right, but have they ever got it in reality…especially since the sun began to shine on shining India?
Shining India needs resources; coal to fire up thermal power plants, steel for TVs, Cars and ACs and the problem is that the treasure lies beneath the land these tribals call as their own.
It’s not that the government has not done anything for them; they do have an assorted number of vikas yojnas
to bank upon. Despite that, a majority of them still sustain themselves on jungle produce…mango kernel for dinner.
And now they hear that the India they never knew is interested in them like never before. Sneaking in as Santa Claus, India Inc is luring them, who are amongst the poorest of poor, with dreams of a better life.
Enter: Naxal inspired new consciousness about their rights over their resources.
Suddenly, they don’t want to part with their land no matter what their allurement is. They don’t need that plush job in the big factory, as they are not fit for most of the jobs there; they only want their land; it’s all they have.
Naxals have been leveraging this vulnerability since the past four decades and continue to do so in their fight for liberation. While, to their advantage, the poor tribals deep in the jungles of Dantewada, Jharkhand or Orissa, feel that these men-in-red are at least helping them protect their forest…rivulet…mango kernel.
All this while the state was virtually nonexistent and now, suddenly, everybody seems to care; it’s but natural if they see the shining India with suspicion.
The Centre has announced that a massive military offensive is in the offing. So, we want to crush the Naxals with force. Good, but can we ensure that there would be no collateral damage or do we also believe in the Rajpaksa doctrine?
Clearly, in our rush to secure our resources, we are forgetting that the political-ideological character of such movements, which have mass support, cannot be crushed by physically eliminating some individuals and guerrilla groups.
The problem should first be addressed politically through developmental and democratic measures, and not by countering violence with more violence. The hardcore Naxals will melt into the larger society the moment they start to lose the game and left behind would be those hapless poor and their mango kernels.
Can’t we, as a nation, gun for 10% GDP while also ensuring social dignity to the last man in the line? Or will we be contended, 100 years down the line, by saying sorry the way Aussies said to Aborigines to whom the continent belonged. It’s a question that demands an answer from not just the policy makers, but also the common man; from you and me.