By E V Murli:
HOURS before the beginning of the democratic carnival -- the Lok Sabha polls, Maoists triggered a blood bath in Shyamgiri hills falling under the limits of Kuwakonda police station around 25 kms away from the district headquarters of Dantewada. Bastar will go to polls on April 11 in the first phase. The casualty figures in this violence are five, including the lone Bharatiya Janata Party MLA from Bastar Bhima Mandavi, his driver and three security personnel.
The Maoists had earlier also inflicted similar bloody blows on the political leaders. On May 25, 2013, around 25 Indian National Congress leaders, including former minister Mahendra Karma, former PCC Chief Nandkumar Patel and former Union Minister Vidya Charan Shukla were killed in a Naxal attack in Jhiram Ghati of Darbha valley. On 24 April, 2017, the red rebels ambushed a group of Central Reserve Police Force officers, who were guarding road workers in the Sukma district of Chhattisgarh.
At least 25 CRPF soldiers were killed and 7 others were critically injured in the attack, which was one of the deadliest in recent years. Maoists had killed 11 soldiers in a similar ambush in the same district in the beginning of March 2017. And if one goes by the chronology of events, it’s a gory tale of death and destruction unleashed in Chhattisgarh as well as in the neighbouring states of Odisha, Jharkhand and Maharashtra. The number of casualties due to the Naxal violence has lost count and at times it appears that the Naxals are capable to strike at will despite the presence of such large number of security forces. The Naxals have no value of human rights and they violate it brazenly while the security personnel are completely under the scanner of the human rights organisation and even for rightful acts of the security personnel, they are overly censured. The death of BJP MLA, Bhima Mandavi in the Naxal incident has once again reinforced the need for eliminating this menace from the face of the affected states for once and all. For this, the Governments of the affected States in coordination with the forces and all stakeholders must work out an explicit plan to wipe out the malevolence of Naxalism.
It is now time to ponder over not the cause but the solution. There have been a lot of debate over the issue and the debates had remained inconclusive till date and the violence by Naxals continued unabated notwithstanding the killing of innocent lives. The Naxal violence took more toll than by any terror attack anywhere in the world. It’s one of the most heinous forms of terror prevailing in the world. Some parts of the State have been inflicted by this menace since decades but the fight against the Naxals began with Dr Raman Singh, former BJP Chief Minister, taking over the reins of Chhattisgarh in 2003. Until then there was no unified action against these perpetrators of law. Huge number of security personnel were deployed in the affected districts which were increasing in numbers perpetually year after year. The Government of Dr Raman Singh did not shy away from taking the battle to the fort of the Naxals and there was a lot of criticism also for the action initiated by the BJP Government from the so called human right brigades.
But unmoved by this criticism and bucking, the government continued the fight. Even Dr Singh got support from Congress leader Mahendra Karma for the Salwa Judum movement the government started. Though many Congress leaders were opposed to it but Karma knew that until and unless they took on this violence from the front there was going to be no solution to it. It was, however, unfortunate that Karma was killed in a Naxal ambush along with senior Congress leaders in 2013. Even Bhima Mandavi, the lone BJP MLA from Bastar, was a fighter against the menace and he had vociferously spoken against the red rebels on various occasions. Perhaps he was on the target of the Naxals for speaking against them. But Mandavi never cared the threat and he continued his fight against the outlaws for which he had to pay the price with his precious life and that of four security personnel. After the Naxal attack in Dantewada, a series of allegations and counter allegations was incited, the BJP saw it as a complete let down of the law and order in the state.
After the Congress Government took over the reins, there has been a go up in the incidences of violence, they alleged. BJP National Vice President and former Chief Minister Dr. Raman Singh alleged that the Naxals have begun to feel that their rule has been reinstated in the region. The Congress, however, countered the BJP stating that the BJP was in power in the state for 15 long years and they had failed to check this menace. The Congress was the biggest sufferer of this menace as the party lost their entire line of senior leaders in an ambush by Naxals in Jhiram Ghati. Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel has spoke of retaliating to the Naxals in the same coin. The Opposition had even raised a conspiracy theory after the incident. The Chief Minister, however, showed his political maturity by refusing to state anything on these allegations. As this was not a time to level allegations, Government, however, made it clear that the police had warned Bhima Mandavi of the threats of venturing out so openly, however he did not heed to the warnings.
At a time when elections are on the edge, it was very natural for the political leaders to venture out and they fail to realize the hiding threats. It’s time the new government led by Bhupesh Baghel in the state prepare a decisive plan without wasting any time and put into action the plan so that the red rebellion prevailing is eradicated even without a trace. But for this, the government should have a political will, a will to counter the criticism from the disagreeable groups, a will to eradicate this nasty ideology that has turned into a big business of extortion and contract killing, a will to take development to the remote areas in the region where traces of development are yet to reach. With this ‘will’ to act, Naxalism will fade away.