Sukla Sen, EKTA (Committee for Communal Amity), Mumbai, writes:
EKTA (Committee for Communal Amity) hereby strongly condemns the lethal attack by Maoist insurgents yesterday (Monday) afternoon on a private bus at Chingavaram on the Dantewada-Sukhma road in Chhattisgarh in an overly successful bid to kill a group of travelling armed Special Police Officers (SPOs) -- Adivasi youths recruited to battle Maoist insurgency in the state, with the full knowledge that the bus was carrying also a large number of unarmed civilian passengers taking no part in the ongoing armed conflicts between the insurgents and the state. This is morally utterly repulsive.
We also, on this note, strongly disapprove the brutal summary executions of unarmed civilians, including Adivasis and other sections of the poor and marginalized, by the Maoists tagging them as “informer”.
At the same time, we also take note of the fact that a large group of SPOs, maybe around 20, elected to travel by a bus full of civilian passengers, plying through an area known to be prone to mine blasts and other forms of armed assaults by the Maoists, despite the fact they are engaged in an open and no holds barred war with the insurgents, killing each other at the first available opportunity. This amounts to virtually holding the civilian passengers as helpless hostage and trying to use them as human shield for their own safety. It is also just unacceptable.
While on this orgy of gory violence, the reflexive cry of Sri Chidambaram in the wake of these tragic murders for more of the same (failed measures), asking for an “expanded mandate” i.e. permission to use air strikes against the insurgents operating in an area with deep forest covers and sheltering for ages large number of adivasi inhabitants is also unacceptably disturbing. So is his vituperative verbal assault on civil society groups committed to uphold democratic values and norms so as to cover up his own dismal performance as the Union Home Minister.
The fact that the detailed recommendations made by a body of recognized experts appointed by no less than the Planning Commission of India to tackle Maoist insurgency have gone completely unheeded despite persistent failures of the tried and tested repressive measures deserves close attention.
On this note, we also strongly condemn Orissa government’s armed assaults on unarmed civilian resistors protesting against proposed mega projects by the Posco, and also Tata, Vedanta etc., overriding all ecological, social, and also legal, considerations.
It seems that the state is bent upon sending the message, in unison with the insurgents, that in Indian democracy peaceful protests have no reasonable chance of being heard and the only way out is armed banditry.
At the end, we again appeal to the warring parties to immediately come to the negotiating table and eschew blood spilling violence. Obviously the “democratic” state has a greater responsibility and just cannot afford to emulate a band of armed outlaws.
The sate must also immediately have an authentic and thoughtful relook at the “strategy” being pursued hitherto by it and make serious attempts to initiate inclusive and participatory development to better the lot of the marginalised Adivasi populations, in particular - the main constituency of the insurgents, to cut them off from their principal support base.
Mindless armed action will only bring in more and more tragedies it its wake.
An internal disturbance fuelled by an overpowering sense of alienation felt by a significant section of the population born out of desperate poverty and cruel oppressions cannot be and must not be tackled the way a war is waged against a clearly identified uniformed external enemy.