After a lull, Maoist ambushes and killings are back in Chhattisgarh. At least 22 state police and CRPF personnel have been killed in the Bijapur region in the latest clash. This comes on the heel of another ambush last week that took five policemen’s lives.
Why the sudden rise in Maoist insurgency, we do not yet know. But it underlines that the problem, which former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh rightly described as India’s greatest internal security challenge, persists.
It has thrived under two Congress and three BJP governments in Raipur since the state was formed and central governments under Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Manmohan Singh and Narendra Modi. Different issues arise with changing political landscape, but the basic weaknesses in India’s fightback remain.
Lack of conviction, local politicians’ complicity with one group of Naxals or the other, corporates’ tendency to buy peace by paying ransom, and of course the bleeding heart “let’s look for the root cause of violence” sympathies all play a role.
Substantively, the waffling continues under NDA, especially as Chhattisgarh now has a Congress government. If the UPA blamed BJP’s Chief Minister Raman Singh, the BJP would now accuse Congress’ Bhupesh Baghel of being soft. Further, the BJP is fixated, for the reasons of its own politics, on what it calls the ‘Urban Naxals’ while the real ones carry on as before.
India is paying a heavy price for this messed-up politics. It will need to change, especially as, with the new MMDR Act, the Modi government wants to give a mega push to mining.
Essentially, however, things haven’t changed since similar confusions set back the UPA’s one effort to push back at the armed Naxals when P. Chidambaram was Union home minister. It is then, that this National Interest column was written on 1 June 2013 in The Indian Express. Please check out if it has stood the test of time.
In this quick piece, I pick up the thread from that column and take the argument forward. More as a reminder of our insensitivity, incompetence and callousness that cuts across parties.