Why so much attention on the siege of Lalgarh but not on Dantewada and Bijapur in Chhattisgarh and Latehar in Jharkhand
While so much attention has been focused on the siege of Lalgarh, and there is much joy in India's urban English-speaking militarist middle class at the supposedly succeeding police and paramilitary action there, just why doesn't anyone dare to talk about the utter failure of the State against the Naxals in Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand?
Where is all the machoism and the bravura in the media and the middle classes at the hopelessly one-sided war that wages on in these states? Since January this year, I have driven hours upon hours through the two states, through the most heavily Naxal-dominated areas -- the south Bastar districts of Dantewada and Bijapur in Chhattisgarh and Latehar in Jharkhand.
And the State? The Police? Non-existent. Zilch. I was in Latehar on April 22, the day the Naxals called a statewide bandh to protest the killing of five innocent villagers by CRPF. I was on the road for TEN hours and I saw not a SINGLE policeman, forget about a patrol. Just hours later, some 200 Naxals swooped down on a rural railway station and held an entire train hostage for four hours! And the State? Not a single policeman dared to enter the station.
Every time I travel in these two states, I am warned by police officers that I am doing so at my risk and that I shouldn't expect any help from them should I run into trouble. On January 26 this year, during the "Black Day" called by the Naxals, I traveled on a road in south Chhattisgarh that had never before been seized by Naxals. This time, it was. Except for one brave police officers who oversaw clearing of boulders placed by Naxals on the roads, all other police officers sat holed inside their stations.
Then, of course, is the issue of the Naxals themselves. The question that no one is asking is: just why is Mr Chidambaram and everyone else so exercised about Maoists seizing power in Lalgarh? Anyone who works in the field knows that the police and the State cannot enter many parts of the country. Until very recently, half of Bihar was like that. Large chunks of Uttar Pradesh are like that. I would like to see the police enter areas in Mumbai that are totally ruled by the underworld.
So why isn't the Indian media, the middle class, Mr. Chidambaram, the Prime Minister interested in reoccupying the badlands of UP and Bihar?
The answer is simple. In Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa and also West Bengal lie hidden some of the best deposits of natural resources. The Indian middle class doesn't give a damn how many millions of people are uprooted from their villages in order to secure their natural resources. The corporate media that represents the narrow interests of the Indian industry is totally in favour of claiming such resources, even if it means employing the most brutal and repressive violence.
You need to travel to such regions, Dr. Aravindan, to see who is the victim and who is the perpetrator. The state is overwhelmingly the brute perpetrator there. Every part of the system -- the executive, the judiciary, the politicians -- are badly compromised. The indigenous people are the victims, but we brand them all as Naxals.
So just how long do you think India will be able to sustain this oppression of the people who, instead of being seen as citizens of India deserving of social justice, are brutalized and condemned as violent criminals?
Let me remind you of what is happening in the US. Right from Barack Obama to even top military generals and CIA chiefs have admitted that the brutal US campaign in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan have not made America safer. Instead, they now openly say, the American militarism has increased the threat from terrorism.
I am reminded of a cartoon I saw years ago. As his angry mother glares at him, a boy of perhaps six years in age explains his confusion as to why his younger brother, sitting besides him on the floor, was crying himself hoarse. "I just don't know why he is crying as I eat my apple," the kid told his mother, pointing at his younger sibling. "He was also crying when I was eating his apple."
We, Mr. Chekkutty, have for far too long been eating every one's apples. But, well, I think now the disadvantaged are no more as helpless as they once were.
I don't support the Naxals either. But there is no way that I can support the state, when, through people like Mr. Chidambaram, all it does is push the agenda of the rapacious capitalists who kill, maim, torture and enslave just so to trespass and illegally annex land that has for centuries belonged to the people who have lived on it.
If India's middle class doesn't wake up to this truth, the battle can only get grimmer and more violent.