India's War on Maoists Threatens Economy, Civil Rights

It is conservatively estimated that Maoists, also known as Naxalites, control almost 25% of Indian territory in eastern and central states. Indian defense analyst Bharat Verma claims that "New Delhi and the state capitals have almost ceded the governmental control over 40 percent of the Union's territory to the Naxalites". A Newsweek story last year quoted Deepak Ambastha, the editor of Prabhat Khabar, a Hindi daily newspaper in Jharkhand state, as saying that "the state's writ runs only within city limits." Similar situation exists in many of the 20 Indian states, home to nearly 80 percent of those 836 million Indians, where the Maoists dominate the rural landscape. Indian government knows that it can ignore the Naxal threat at its own peril.

Maoists can hurt India's best laid economic growth plans, according to Reuters. While the economic impact may be small compared with India's trillion dollar economy in the short term, the insurgency and the sense that it is worsening creates a sense that India does not fully control its own territory and adds to risks for companies mulling investments.

A recently released ministry of rural development report in India accuses the government and companies like Tata and Essar of a corporate takeover in the hinterland of Chhattisgarh. It describes it as the "the biggest grab of tribal lands after Columbus."

The Indian government has now offered to suspend all contracts with mining companies in central and eastern parts of the country in a bid to persuade the rebels to lay down their weapons. Violence in Lalgarh has worried the country's third-largest steel producer, JSW Steel, which is setting up a $7-billion, 10-million ton steel plant in the area. India also depends heavily on coal as a primary source for its energy needs, and about 20-25% of Indian coal mining is affected by the ongoing Maoists insurgency, according to Asia Times.

Responding the the growing threat, Indian government has deployed 100,000 troops to quell the insurgency in what is called Operation Greenhunt. Many analysts, including British writer William Dalrymple, believe the Maoists insurgency in India is no less serious a threat than the Taliban insurgency in Pakistan, where Pakistan has deployed 20,000 troops in its tribal areas along the border with Afghanistan. Is the growing Maoists insurgency the beginning of a bloody revolution in India? Only time will tell.



In comments published in the Hindu, Indian civil rights activist and lawyer Prashant Bhushan, says that the "war on terror has degenerated into war against tribals":

“For every 100 Maoists eliminated, thousands more are created”

“Suppression of dissent is fascist and will escalate into civil war”

NEW DELHI: Human rights activists, journalists and fact-finding committees were being targeted to intimidate them so that there could be no dissenting voices against the State’s alleged war on terror, which had degenerated into a war against the tribals, advocate Prashant Bhushan alleged here over the week-end.

He was speaking at a press conference held to protest against the alleged labeling of civil rights groups and peoples’ movements as Maoist front organizations.

Charge-sheet against Ghandy

Reading from the charge-sheet filed against Maoist leader Kobad Ghandy by the Special Cell of the Delhi Police, Mr. Bhushan said: “Their other front organizations like Revolutionary Democratic Front, People’s Democratic Front of India, Committee for Release of Political Prisoners, Indian Association of People’s Lawyers took up the issues
of human rights violation, civil liberties, atrocities by the police…

Other civil liberties and human rights organizations i.e. People’s Union for Democratic Rights, People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), Association for Protection of Democratic Rights also take up the issues of their outfit — CPI (Maoist). These organizations play a very important role to broaden the base of the outfit.”

People, who expressed sympathy with human rights activists or exposed and criticized government actions, were accused of being front organizations of the Maoists, he added.

Tribals harassed

Mr. Bhushan said: “The government has done little for the tribals and now they are trying to snatch their land. When tribals agitate peacefully, the State security forces descend on them, harass them and burn their villages.

“About 700 villages have been burnt in the past two years in Chhattisgarh. People are bound to protest and take up arms. For every 100 Maoists eliminated, thousands are created through collateral damage.”

The country was turning into a fascist State through suppression of dissent and this would lead to an escalating state of violence resulting in civil war, he added.

Talks favored

Stressing that the State could not use illegal means to curb violence, retired Justice Rajinder Sachar said: “The State cannot be a terrorist. It is the ultimate repository of law and order.

"Talks should happen between the government and the Maoists in an open atmosphere where there is no fear. Both sides should cease hostilities for dialogue to take place. The Maoist representative should be granted immunity for the period of talks. In case the talks fail, both sides should be able to return to their respective areas.”

To approach court

“PUCL will go to court to remove its name from the charge-sheet,” he added.

Concurring that the government and Maoists should have talks amid a ceasefire, writer Arundhati Roy said: “Fight for civil liberties, prisoners’ rights and mere thoughts are being criminalized. If those who support human rights activists in their struggle are considered front organizations of the Maoists, by the same argument the Home Ministry too should be considered the over ground representatives of big corporations.”


Mr. Bhushan, an urban civil rights advocate, is defending the rights of the poor peasants who are led by the Maoists leaders like Kobad Ghandy, a foreign educated urbanite from a well-to-do family.

Talking about the probability of a bloody revolution in South Asia, let us remember that the French Revolution was not led by the poor French peasants. Instead, the ideology, the leadership and the resources came from the petty bourgeoisie who were from the urban middle class, dominated by small business owners, shopkeepers and self-employed urbanites. They were not the have-nots, they were have-lesses, relative to the feudal elite favored by the royalty.

Unless Pakistan's urban middle class leads such a revolution, it will not succeed. The poor and rural Taliban or similar other groups will probably be crushed by the Pakistani military. The Maoists in India, led by the left-wing intellectuals, civil society and their urban sympathizers, have a greater chance of success in India than the poor, rural Taliban in Pakistan, whose violent tactics and suicide bombings have destroyed whatever support they had in the cities. They have dug their own graves.

Related Links:

India Deploys 100,000 troops Against Maoists

Taliban Digging Their Own Graves

Bloody revolution in India

Maoists Impact on India's Economy

Are India and Pakistan Failed States?

Arundhai Roy on Maoist Revolt

India's Maoist Revolution

NY Times on Maoists

Can Indian Democracy Deliver?

Grinding Poverty in Resurgent India

Pakistan's Choice: Globalization or Talibanization

The Tornado Awaiting India

Countering Militancy in FATA

Taliban or Rawliban?

Political, Economic and Social Reforms in Pakistan

Fix ing Sanitation Crisis in India

Western Myths About "Stable, Peaceful, Prosperous" India

Taliban Target Landed Elite

Feudal Punjab Fertile For Terror

Caste: India's Apartheid

The Three Dangers Facing India

Comments

Riaz Haq said…
Here's an interesting commentary by Sudha Ramachandra about India's future prospects:

The populations of Europe and Japan are already graying, and the working-age populations of the United States and China are projected to shrink too in the next two decades. By 2020 the US will be short 17 million people of working age, China 10 million, Japan 9 million and Russia 6 million. However, India will have a surplus of 47 million people, giving the country a competitive edge in labor costs, which will be sustainable up to 2050, according to a study by Goldman Sachs.

Economists say India will catch up with the Chinese economy beginning in 2030, when the latter could cool off as the result of an aging population. "The window of opportunity offered by a population bulge has clearly opened for India," points out noted economist C P Chandrasekhar of Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi. After decades of evoking despair, India's demographic profile is finally beginning to stir hope.

But not everyone views the population bulge with such optimism. Some analysts say it is not enough to have a young population. The working-age population needs to be healthy and literate.

India's score on this, while improving, is certainly not inspiring. About 50% of all Indian children are undernourished, a large percentage of them born with protein deficiency (which affects brain development and learning capacity, among other things). This is hardly the ideal foundation for a productive workforce, as the likelihood of a malnourished child growing up to be an able adult is rather dim.

There is also the question of whether the population has the skills and knowledge to take on India's future work. Literacy has improved dramatically over the years - just 14% of the population was literate in 1947 versus about 64.8% today - but many who are classified as literate can barely read or write. And 40% of those who enroll in primary schools drop out by age 10. The curriculum in the schools, especially the government-run ones, does not prepare the child for the domestic job market, let alone the global one. The huge "workforce" might not be qualified to do the work.

Moreover, India's rich and educated classes are preferring to have small families, so the additions to the population are coming largely from the poor, illiterate sections in society. Nicholas Eberstadt, who researches demographics at the Washington-based American Enterprise Institute, points out that while India's overall population profile will remain relatively youthful, "this is an arithmetic expression averaging diverse components of a vast nation. Closer examination reveals two demographically distinct Indias: the north that stays remarkably young over the next 20 years, and a south already graying rapidly due to low fertility."
Riaz Haq said…
Here's an Aljazeera report on Indian Maoist insurgency:


"You people say that India [has] got a republican, independent government, we say NO it is not so, and between these two there is a contradiction. You people say that India got independence on August 15, 1947, we say power-transfer happened. Semi-feudal, semi-colonial. Politicians, rich people and land owners are looting the country, and benefiting. You may know the current police law is from 1898, from Victorian times, so what has changed? What has changed is a few faces who sit in the parliament today. Like a new cap on an old bottle. The content of the bottle is still the same. So the common people are still deprived and they will rise," said their spokesman Gaur Chakravarty.
----------
A 40-year long civil war has been raging in the jungles of central and eastern India. It is one of the world's largest armed conflicts but it remains largely ignored outside of India.

Caught in the crossfire of it are the Adivasis, who are believed to be India's earliest inhabitants. A loose collection of tribes, it is estimated that there are about 84 million of these indigenous people, which is about eight per cent of the country's population.

For generations, they have lived off farming and the spoils of the jungle in eastern India, but their way of life is under threat. Their land contains mineral deposits estimated to be worth trillions of dollars. Forests have been cleared and the Indian government has evacuated hundreds of villages to make room for steel plants and mineral refineries.

The risk of losing everything they have ever known has made many Adivasis fertile recruits for India's Maoist rebels or Naxalites, who also call these forests home.

The Maoists' fight with the Indian government began 50 years ago, just after India became independent. A loose collection of anti-government communist groups - that initially fought for land reform - they are said to be India's biggest internal security threat. Over time, their focus has expanded to include more fundamental questions about how India is actually governed.

In their zeal for undermining the Indian government, Maoist fighters have torched construction equipment, bombed government schools and de-railed passenger trains, killing hundreds. In the name of state security, several activists who have supported the Maoists have been jailed and tortured. Innocent people have also been implicated on false charges. These are often intimidation tactics used by the government to discourage people from having any contact with the Maoists.

The uprising by Maoist fighters and its brutal suppression by the Indian government, has claimed more than 10,000 lives since 1980, and displaced 12 million people. Many of the victims are not even associated with either side. They are simply caught in the crossfire. And the violence is escalating as both sides mount offensive after counter-offensive.


http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/aljazeeracorrespondent/2011/10/20111019124251679523.html
Riaz Haq said…
Are most terrorists in India Muslims? I have to chance to look at this following yet another avoidable incident this week.

Nigeria's ambassador to India has responded to a comment made by a Union minister.
The comment was made Giriraj Singh, who said: "If Rajiv Gandhi had married a Nigerian lady and not a white-skinned woman, would the Congress have accepted her leadership?" The remark revealed the casual racism that is so commonplace in India. Nigeria's ambassador OB Okongor was upset enough to say "I believe the prime ninister will do right thing on this. I am not going to lodge protest." The prime minister ignored it, once again as those who have observed his conduct on such things will have noticed, though the media was naturally outraged.

The website rediff.com ran a commentary headlined '5 reasons why Giriraj Singh should shut up.' It included this statement of his from last year: "Isn't it true that all people caught in terrorist activities belong to one community? I am not trying to blame any one particular community. Why are all so-called secular parties silent on this?"

Presumably he means Muslims. He is of course not right in assuming that all people caught for terrorism are Muslims, but are Muslims responsible for most of the terrorism in India? Let's look at the data. The South Asian Terrorism Portal lists fatalities and incidents across India. Quite helpfully, it also does lists them by conflict theatre.

In 2014, there were 976 deaths from terrorism (or extremism, whatever name one wants to use for it) in India. Of these, the most (465) came in the North East. The second most (314) came from Left wing extremism, by a group of people called Maoists. Deaths in Jammu & Kashmir, assuming we want to attribute the whole lot to terrorism, stood at 193. Outside of these conflict theatres, Islamist extremism claimed four lives.

In 2013, the figure was most for Maoists (421), the second most for the North East (252) and the Kashmir plus Islamist violence outside the state again third (206). In 2012, we had a similar situation: Maoists (367), followed by the North East (326), followed by Kashmir (117). The total number of victims to Islamist terrorism outside these three areas, across India, was 1.

In 2011, Maoist violence claimed 602, the North East 246 and Kashmir plus Islamist violence outside the state stood at 225. This year, again the sequence is the same, though violence levels across India have dropped, as they have been doing for the past decade.As is obvious, most terrorists in India are Hindus, the ones whom we have conveniently labelled 'Maoist' instead of 'Hindu'. The second largest group of terrorists are the tribals, animists and perhaps some Christians, of the Northeast. Muslims are third. If one looks outside the separatism of Kashmir, their violence and terrorism levels are among the lowest in the world and they appear to be lest susceptible to terrorism not just by the standards of the world's Muslims but also India's Hindus.

---

The reason is that 'terrorism' is today accepted only that which is Islamist. And the reason for this is the narrative in the media, which has neatly conflated terrorism with Islam and Pakistan. News channels like Times Now run many more programmes firing middle class and Anglicised Indians up against 'terrorism' (ie Islamist/Pakistan) than they run shows on the North East and on Maoism, which claim a far greater number of lives as the figures show.

It is of course unfortunate that this should be the case, but we can explain away the common man using such arguments. For a Union minister to hold them as Gospel is frightening and shows how wrong headed the members of this government are....

http://www.outlookindia.com/article/Are-Most-Terrorists-In-India-Muslims-/293911
Riaz Haq said…
Deadly ambush raises fears of #Maoists rebel resurgence in #India. #Chattisgarh #Modi

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/deadly-ambush-raises-fears-of-rebel-resurgence-in-india/2017/04/26/e62ec112-2a5e-11e7-9081-f5405f56d3e4_story.html?utm_term=.409b11e97bb7

The attack, which killed 25 soldiers, has raised fears that the five-decade insurgency is seeing a revival. This year is already one of the bloodiest in recent years, with 72 soldiers killed in the rebel heartland of Chhattisgarh. By comparison, 36 were killed during all of last year.

“You let him die,” Kumar’s 15-year-old daughter cried to the soldiers carrying the body of her father to his home in the northern hill town of Palampur on Tuesday night. “Why didn’t you do something?”

Indian soldiers have been battling the rebels across several central and northern states since 1967, when the militants — also known as Naxalites — began fighting to demand more jobs, land and wealth from natural resources for the country’s poor indigenous communities. The government has said the insurgents, inspired by Chinese revolutionary leader Mao Zedong, pose the country’s most serious internal security threat.

Before this year, the deadliest Maoist attack was in 2010, when rebels killed 76 soldiers in Chhattisgarh, one of India’s poorest states despite vast mineral riches. Rebel attacks in other Indian states are less frequent, but also sometimes result in casualties.

Analysts said Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government is slipping in its commitment to fight the rebels, and that authorities should be deploying more police and paramilitary troops while simultaneously focusing on boosting economic development for poor villagers who may be moved to support the rebels.

“It’s as if no lessons have been learned from similar attacks in the past,” said Ajai Sahni, a security analyst in New Delhi.

The troops attacked on Monday had been having lunch along a partially built road cutting through scrubland, taking a break from scouting the area ahead of a construction team, when they were ambushed by about 300 armed rebels, touching off a three-hour gunbattle.

“I find it incomprehensible that the Indian state cannot deploy enough soldiers to protect 70 kilometers of road within the country,” Sahni said.

Facing a resurgence in the rebellion, the government should change its standard deployment and surveillance tactics, he said. Authorities also need to improve living standards for local villagers, noting that none had warned the troops about the presence of hundreds of armed rebels moving through the region.

Years of neglect — marked by a lack of jobs, school and health care clinics — have helped to isolate the local villagers, making them open to overtures by the rebels, who speak their tribal languages and have promised to fight for a better future with more education and job opportunities.

The “government needs to reduce the economic deprivation, which has led to an alienation of the local people,” Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Raj Kadyan, a defense analyst, told India Today television channel.

Other analysts noted that Monday’s attack occurred when the soldiers deviated from the standard operating procedures by sitting as a group for lunch, without anyone standing watch, as reported by soldiers who survived the attack.

One survivor said they’d first been approached by villagers, whom the rebels then followed.

“We thought it was a group of villagers coming toward us, when the rebels began firing from behind,” said Sher Bahadur, who was among six soldiers injured.
Riaz Haq said…
#India’s Indigenous people pay price of #Modi's #tiger conservation. Only 1% of over 100 million #Indian #Adivasis have been granted land rights despite gov't forest rights law of 2006, which aims to “undo the historical injustice”. #BJP https://aje.io/szw7n0 via @AJEnglish

Officials were celebrating just hours away from several of India’s major tiger reserves when Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced in the southern city of Mysuru that the country’s tiger population has steadily grown to more than 3,000 since its flagship conservation programme began 50 years ago over concerns that the numbers of the big cats were dwindling.

“India is a country where protecting nature is part of our culture,” Modi said in his speech on Sunday. “This is why we have many unique achievements in wildlife conservation.”

Modi also launched the International Big Cats Alliance, which he said will focus on the protection and conservation of seven big cat species: the tiger, lion, leopard, snow leopard, puma, jaguar and cheetah.

But Indigenous people, known as Adivasi in India, say wildlife conservation projects have displaced members of their community over the past half-century. Adivasi communities in Karnataka organised protests last month to highlight how their people, who have lived in forests for centuries, have been kept out of conservation efforts.

Project Tiger began in 1973 after a census of the big cats found India’s tigers were quickly going extinct through habitat loss, unregulated sport hunting, increased poaching and retaliatory killings by people. Lawmakers and officials tried to address these issues, but the conservation model centered around creating protected reserves where ecosystems can function undisturbed by people.

Several Indigenous groups say the conservation strategies, deeply influenced by American environmentalism, have meant uprooting numerous communities who had lived in the forests for millennia.


Members of several Adivasi groups set up the Nagarahole Adivasi Forest Rights Establishment Committee to protest against evictions from their ancestral lands and seek a voice in how the forests are managed.

“Nagarahole was one of the first forests to be brought under Project Tiger, and our parents and grandparents were probably among the first to be forced out of the forests in the name of conservation,” said JA Shivu, 27, who belongs to the Jenu Kuruba tribe. “We have lost all rights to visit our lands, temples or even collect honey from the forests. How can we continue living like this?”

The fewer than 40,000 Jenu Kuruba people are one of the 75 tribal groups whom the Indian government classifies as particularly vulnerable.

Jenu, which means honey in the southern Indian Kannada language, is the tribe’s primary source of income. Its members collect it from beehives in the forests to sell. Adivasi communities like the Jenu Kurubas are among the poorest in India.

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