NAXAL VIOLENCE: BIGGEST KILLER OF OUR SECURITY FORCES

The article originally appeared on India Today.
Here it is bit extended to reflect further developments.

Another ghastly Naxal attack on our security forces has left 26 Central Reserve Police Force personnel (CRPF) killed. This is a developing news story and the toll may go up as 11 soldiers are critically ill and seven are missing. Details about the group of Naxals that killed are still sketchy. It is the worst Naxal attack on the CRPF since June 29, 2010, when a Maoist ambush had killed 26 CRPF personnel in Chhattisgarh’s Narayanpur district.

According to the eyewitness accounts of the injured soldiers, a group of around 300 Naxals, organized in different teams, ambushed a road opening party of the CRPF in Chhattisgarh’s Sukma district, that comes in the South Bastar region, among the worst Naxal affected areas. According to the injured soldiers, the group of 90 CRPF soldiers did respond to the indiscriminate firing by the terrorists, claiming to kill many of them but details are yet to come.

Left-wing extremism (LWE) or Maoist terrorism or Naxal violence, in fact, has been the biggest killer of our security forces if we go by the data of the past decade.

According to the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP), a data driven website on terrorism in South Asia, since 2004, 3912 security forces personnel have martyred in India in different theatres of conflict, in Jammu & Kashmir, in our North-Eastern part of the country and in the Naxal corridors of India.

The portal has maintained records of the Naxal violence since 2005 and according to the data available here, 1885 security forces personnel have lost their lives in Naxal attacks. The data on the site is updated till April 16 this year. So, today’s death toll makes it 1911 lives lost in the Left-wing extremism in India.

That casualty count is much higher than even the most debated theatre of conflict in India – Jammu & Kashmir. In the same period, since 2004, according to the SATP, 1369 security forces personnel lost their lives in Jammu & Kashmir, a significantly higher numbers, but much lower when we see it in comparison with the 1911 lives lost in the Maoist violence in the same period.

The North-East of India comprising seven sister states, i.e., Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Mizoram and Tripura and Sikkim, is the third major theatre of conflict where the fatality rate of our forces is quite high. The SATP data since 2004 shows that till now, 609 soldiers have lost their lives in the North-East terrorist violence.

MAOISTS DEADLIEST IN INDIA

A 2016 report by the US Department of State found the outlawed CPI(Maoist) the deadliest terror outfit of India, joining the deadliest terror outfits of the world in terms of violence they perpetrate. Its violence was ranked fourth after the Taliban, the Islamic State and Nigeria’s Boko Haram. According to the report, the Maoist violence had killed 176 people in 2015 in 343 terror incidents.

©SantoshChaubey

SAHAB, I WAS TRYING TO HAVE THIS BISCUIT FOR THE LAST FIVE YEARS

A colleague comes from a naxal-affected belt of Odisha. Midst the raging debate on Naxals between the pro- and anti- factions at the workplace after the recent Naxal attacks, in Chhattisgarh and on train in Bihar, he narrated a small but touching incident that came across him few years ago while he was visiting his native place.

One day, visiting a rural area, he took a tea-break at a roadside tea-stall in a tribal locality.

He ordered his tea and was loitering here and there when he found a youth who must be in early 20’s staring at him with eyes of anticipation.

Clad in a worn-out and oversized outfit on a lanky built, his eyes were bulging out and he was walking absent-minded across the tiny space in front of the tea-stall as if looking desperately for some lost possession.

The colleague asked the youth if he needed something. The brief conversation went on like this:

Colleague: Why are you looking at me like this? Do you need something?

Youth: Sahab (Sir), can you buy me a cup of tea? I do not have even a penny for many days.

My colleague was not suspicious of what the youth had just said. Extreme poverty was a known thing in that area and it was more severe in case of the tribal populations which were gradually being displaced from the lands and forests without being provided an alternative to earn the livelihood. They were simply being robbed of the only thing they had, the nature with its resources that had sustained them for generations.

Colleague: Sure, why not. (To the tea vendor) – Please add one more cup to my order.

It was not a smile but a glint of anticipation that ran thought the face of the youth on hearing it. Though he was restrained, his eyes were saying that he wanted to say something more. Reading this, my colleague asked him?

Colleague: Anything else?

Youth: Sahab, I am hungry. I have not eaten anything since last evening.

Colleague: But it is just a tea-stall. It offers just tea and biscuits.

Youth: Sahab, can you buy me a biscuit?

Colleague: But that won’t satisfy your hunger. Take this money from me and buy some food. Okay, but finish your tea and biscuits first.

My colleague, seeing his hunger, as was clear from the youth’s body language, ordered five biscuits.

As if something shocking happened, the youth got shocked on hearing it. He was standing there, mouth agape, as if he had heard something unbelievable. The tea-vendor had to shake him up to give him the biscuits.

Suddenly, the youth started weeping. My colleague, though aware of the extreme poverty of the area, was now shocked to see the response.

Tears were there in the youth’s eye but his face was now echoing an expression of joy that someone exudes on getting something very precious.

Youth (with tearful eyes but a beaming face): Sahab, for the last five years, I was thinking of having this biscuit but could not have money to buy it. So many times, I thought if I could earn something extra, I would buy this biscuit for me and my family. Can I eat one and take the rest for my family?

His question brought my colleague back but he was still in the state of shock. Now, tears were visible in his eyes. He could not answer the youth’s request. He simply bought a packet of the biscuit, handed it over to the youth with some money to buy food, left his tea unfinished and left the tea-stall absent-minded.

Millions of the tribals like the youth mentioned here cannot even think to buy a biscuit that costs a Rupee. They are also Indians. That is also an India.

How many of us know about these Indias?

Why are we killing our own people?

Why are we pushing our own countrymen to such extreme misery?

Why are pushing them to act in a way so that later on, we can brand them as Maoists or Naxals and order their ruthless eradication?

Why are creating circumstances to foster ideologies like Naxalism or Militant Maoism?

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/