Tentacles of Red menace

The Government must not show any mercy while dealing with Maoists. But it must also address genuine tribal grievances.

Maoist Politburo member Mallojula Koteshwar Rao, alias Kishenji, wanted for various horrendous crimes, was killed in a police encounter on November 24. The killing has led his supporters and some political parties to allege that he was eliminated in a ‘fake encounter’. Officials have denied the charge. A two-day bandh was called by the Communist Party of India (Maoist) and its various front organisations to protest against the killing of Kishenji.
Maoists neither respect citizens’ rights nor believe in the Constitution of India. When the need arises they and their sympathisers are the first to level allegations. Responding to the allegation that Kishenji was killed in a fake encounter, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said on November 27, “The Maoists fired 1,000 rounds. It could have caused the death of at least 500 people who live in adjoining villages. The police told me they had given them three days’ time, but the Maoists did not pay heed. So our policemen had no other option but to fire back. The Maoists wanted to target me and other senior leaders. They had plans to sabotage Metro stations, railway stations like Howrah and Sealdah. I shudder to think of it. When a common man is killed, the Maoists never take out a rally or call a bandh. Why? Does a common man have no human rights?”
In nearly 1,600 violent incidents involving Maoists in 2010, as many as 669 people died. There have been spectacular attacks across the country, including a train hold-up involving 250 armed fighters, a jailbreak that freed 350 prisoners and a near-miss assassination attempt in 2004 against a leading politician. Their main targets are the people, including the security forces, who fight against the reign of terrorism and extortion the Maoists have unleashed.
In 2009, Maoists attacked the Eastern Frontier Rifles camp at Silda and killed 24 paramilitary forces. On April 6, 2010, Maoists struck at Dantewada and killed 74 personnel of the Central Reserve Police Force and two policemen. Fifty others were wounded in the series of attacks on security convoys in Dantewada district in Chhattisgarh The attack resulted in the biggest loss of life security forces have suffered since launching a large-scale offensive against the Maoists. Again, on December 3, nine security persons escorting a Jharkhand MP were killed.
Killing is abhorrent and inexcusable. But it is amazing that a crescendo of protests is raised whenever any criminal, be a Maoist or a terrorist, is gunned down. Obviously, for the protesting groups, the killing of killers is a greater crime than the killing of innocent citizens or security personnel.
Maoists are exploiting the dire and unacceptable poverty in the tribal and other backward regions of the country. Planning by Governments is one thing and the implementation of schemes is entirely another. The Prime Minister has repeatedly said that the delivery system has failed. If any proof of that is needed it is there in the latest report of Transparency International released in November. It reveals that India has scored 3.1 (down from 3.3 last year) on a scale where 10 indicates very clean and zero represents the highest level of corruption, on the Corruption Perceptions Index. Indeed, the score has been falling since 2007, when it stood at 3.5. Year after year, India has slipped by one or two notches.  The index focuses on corruption in the public sector, involving public officials, civil servants and politicians.
The data sources used to compile the index include questions relating to the abuse of power and bribery of public officials, kickbacks in public procurement, embezzlement of public funds etc.
Another survey shows that three out of four Indians said their family had to pay bribes — particularly in the areas of healthcare and land ownership. The average for the rest of the world is one out of four.
Industry looks at corruption as a major business risk. It makes those who have the choice be more selective about where they want to operate. Another appraisal and estimation by Transparency International India and Centre for Media Studies, based on the experience of Below Poverty Line households in availing various public services, has revealed that the level of corruption is “alarming”.
One-third of Below Poverty Line households paid Rs 8,830 as bribes to Government officials to avail various public services — from police to public distribution system. Corruption in the form of bribery takes the cake, and given that it begins at the grassroots level the process to monitor and control it is even more difficult. Other findings of the report point out that close to half the bribes are extracted by Government officials, both at the State and the national level. The same Government personnel who are entrusted with the development of the nation are lining their own pockets.
Lamentation and breast-beating by poltiical leaders is not enough. They have to get rid of the demon of corruption to facilitate development. The Government talks about development in Maoist-infested regions. Once an area is dominated by the security forces, the officials must immediately push to build roads, schools and hospitals for the poorest of the poor. Unfortunately, the Government has become a slave of its rules and the bureaucracy that believes the rulebook is more important than speedy development of backward areas.
We are still governed by the rules and laws given to us by the British. Neither are our laws hard-hitting nor is there any will to be result-oriented, except what is shown in high falutin speeches. The Government at the national level is following the policy of ‘willing to strike but afraid to wound’. The result is that we are neither seen to be firm nor do we want to be appearing to surrender to the Maoists and other terrorists. At the same time, there is no will to curb corruption, by legislating strong anti-corruption measures. At present, only one paisa out of a rupee reaches the intended beneficiaries, while the rest is pocketed by unscrupulous people. These are facts that the Maoists use in their propaganda material to justify their repressive methods.
In short, ad hocism is the policy, which must end. We earlier had the British to blame for all evils. Now, even that scapegoat is not there. The Government must remember that blaming people is not the answer. Only a determined effort to change the situation, more through action than words, will work.


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