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


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 a Times of India story on Maoists new plans and strategy for "revolution":

RAIPUR: Outlawed Communist Party of India (Maoist) has formulated a comprehensive strategy for 'New Democratic Revolution' through a combination of military and political tactics to create base areas in the country side and gradual encirclement and capture of urban areas.

The CPI (Maoist) vision for it's 'protracted people's war' against the Indian state is elucidated in its strategy paper titled 'Strategy and Tactics of the Indian Revolution'. This Maoist document contains a comprehensive plan of action to capture political power and usher in the 'New Democratic Revolution' in India.

According to a PIB press release, union minister of state for Home R P N Singh had informed the Rajya Sabha that the CPI (Maoist) was the largest left wing extremist organization operating in the country and it was also response for almost 80 % of Naxal violence reported during the current year.

He said the objective involving creation of 'base areas', gradual encirclement and capture of the urban areas is sought to be achieved through armed warfare by the 'People's Liberation Guerilla Army' cadres of the CPI (Maoist).

Political mobilization through its 'front organizations' and alliances with other insurgent outfit, which in CPI (Maoist) parlance is called the 'Strategic United Front'.

Chhattisgarh has consistently remained the worst Naxal affected State with the rebels being active and have their presence in nearly half of the state's 27 districts. The Maoists are hyper active in tribal Bastar region, where they have established their liberated zone of 'Dandakaranya', spread over the forest regions of Bastar and parts of Andhra Pradesh. However, the state and security forces describe this region as "areas dominated by the Maoists".
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.
Riaz Haq said…
How Coal Fuels India’s Insurgency
In mineral-rich jungles Maoist militants find a foothold through violence and extortion.

By Anthony Loyd

The gunman at the jungle’s edge lived and died by different names. Some knew him as Prashant, others as Paramjeet. Occasionally he called himself Gopalji, trading the alias with another insurgent leader to further confuse the Indian authorities trying to hunt him down.

When I met him, he was fresh from killing, and called himself by yet another name. “Comrade Manas,” he said as he stepped from the shadows beneath a huge walnut tree, machine gun in hand, a slight figure, his frame and features burned out and cadaverous with the depredations of malaria and typhoid, war and jungle.

The day was already old and the sun low. The silhouettes of a dozen or so other gunmen lurked in the deepening green of the nearby paddy fields, watchful and waiting. Manas and his men were on the move and had little time to talk.

In India they are known by a single word, Naxalites: Maoist insurgents at the heart of the nation’s longest running and most deeply entrenched internal conflict. Their decades-long war, which costs India more lives today than the embers of the conflict in Kashmir, has been described by former premier Manmohan Singh as India’s “greatest internal security threat.”

In the spate of violence 24 hours before our rendezvous, Manas, just 27 years old, and his men had killed six policemen and wounded eight more in an ambush across the range of low hills at whose base we now met.

The attack had put the Naxalites back on the front pages of India’s newspapers, and security forces were on the move in angry response. Patrols and helicopters circled the area, sweeping through villages and probing into the jungle.

By rights, the Naxalites should have been relics of history, rather than fighting and killing in the name of Mao long after the Chinese communist leader’s death, in a country he had never even visited—a nuclear power at that. Yet their war, fought in the back blast of India’s energy boom, had been thrown a lifeline by the demands of development and the globalized economy, as mineral exploitation and land rights became catalysts of a revitalized struggle.

In this way India’s energy needs and industry’s hunger for raw materials linked the angry killers in the jungle to coal, steel, and power production, welding the Naxalites to some of the most disadvantaged communities in the country—the Adivasis, India’s original tribal dwellers. Rather than becoming an anomaly from the past, the Naxalite insurgency—fueled by intimidation, extortion, and violence—has come to symbolize a conflict prophetic of the future. It pits development against tradition, with India’s most mineral-rich states at the epicenter.

Indeed Manas, already a Naxalite “zone commander” despite his youth, seemed certain that the social grievances of the poor would eventually ensure victory for his cause. He regarded the overthrow of the Delhi government as an inevitability.

“An adult tiger grows old and dies,” he assured me, his eyes glowing with the luminosity of radicals the world over, “just as the government we are trying to oust is old, decaying, and ready to die. Our revolution is young and bound to grow. These are the laws of the universe. In a battle between politicians and a new society run by the people, the people are bound to win.”

He spoke until the last of the sun had dipped beneath the tree line, and then he slipped off into the shadows with his men. The security forces were getting closer, and they had no wish to become encircled.

The next time I saw his face, Manas was dead. It stared at me from a roadside shrine in the impoverished village where he had been born. Local people told me that he had been slain in a gun battle not long after our meeting. Only by reading the inscription on the stone did I learn the real identity of the insurgent with many names: Lalesh.
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 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....
Riaz Haq said…
Journalist Jailed in Eastern #India Over Social Media Post. #CPJ demands release #Naxal #Maoist #Modi #BJP

NEW DELHI — A journalist in eastern India was arrested after he posted a message on social media criticizing the police and calling for legal protections for reporters in the violence-scarred region, his lawyer said Wednesday.

The journalist, Prabhat Singh, who had worked for an Indian television network and had been posting news on social media sites after he was fired from the station, was detained on Monday in the Bastar region of Chhattisgarh State, said Kishore Narayan, one of his lawyers. The post for which he was arrested was circulated on WhatsApp.

Mr. Singh was accused of circulating obscene material, Mr. Narayan said. In court on Tuesday, Mr. Singh said that he was beaten in police custody, Mr. Narayan said. The court denied his bail request.

A Maoist insurgency has been active for years in India’s tribal belt, which includes parts of Chhattisgarh. The rebels disrupt elections and frequently attack security officials. Human rights activists say that security officials trying to suppress the insurgency have committed human rights abuses, including extrajudicial killings.

Two journalists were arrested in Chhattisgarh last year and accused of supporting the militants. Those arrests came at a time when the authorities were cracking down on people they called Maoist sympathizers, supporters of the journalists have said. Shalini Gera, a lawyer with the Jagdalpur Legal Aid Group, which is representing the journalists arrested last year, said both men were innocent.

Ms. Gera said that last month she and her colleagues were driven out of Jagdalpur, which serves as the administrative headquarters of the Bastar district, by police officials who objected to their work.

On Tuesday, the Committee to Protect Journalists, an advocacy group based in New York, called on the state’s chief minister to release Mr. Singh.

“The arrests and hounding of journalists and their defenders has given way to a climate of fear that risks turning parts of Chhattisgarh into a media black hole,” said Sumit Galhotra, the senior research associate of the group’s Asia program.

A senior police official in Bastar was not available for comment on Wednesday.
Riaz Haq said…
Chhattisgarh: 26 #Indian police officers killed & 10 badly injured by #Maoist rebels. #India #Modi via @indiacom.

Raipur, April 24: At least 25 jawans of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) were killed in an encounter with the Naxal militants in Sukma district of Chhattisgarh. The deceased jawans were members of the 74th battalion of CRPF. One among the deceased was also an Inspector-rank officer.
The encounter broke out at nearly 12:25 PM on Monday. The security forces and naxal militants were locked in a gunfight in the region falling between Burkapal and Chintagufa, falling in Sukma district. The area is considered to the hotbed of Maoist militancy, with maximum number of Naxalite cadres emerging from the area. ALSO: LIVE updates: Reaction of Centre on Sukma encounter
According to reports, the encounter broke out after the CRPF patrolling party was fired upon left-wing extremists who were present at their hideouts. Caught off-guard, the CRPF jawans launched a retaliatory attack, indulging in a prolonged gunfire with the heavily armed Maoist militants. “”The Naxals fired at a patrolling party of the CRPF near Burkapal village,” confirmed D M Awasthi, Special Director General (anti-Naxal operations) of Chhattisgarh Police, while speaking to PTI.
Apart from 26 CRPF personnel being killed, nearly 10 jawans are critically injured, as per reports. The injured jawans have been evacuated from the encounter site, using helicopter. The jawans were rushed to the nearby medical government hospital. They were later shifted to the medical facility in Raipur.

The CRPF jawans were deployed in the Chintagufa to oversee the road construction work being undertaken in the region. The contractors and labourers were sought to be protected from the Maoist militants, who oppose development work undertaken by Indian government in the region.
Chhatisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh called an emergency meeting on Monday to review the security condition in the Maoist-dominated belt in the state. He left Delhi on being informed about the encounter, cancelling all his engagements planned in the national capital for later in the day.
Apart from the Chhattisgarh CM, the Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi also called a meeting of top officials to review the security state in the Naxal-affected regions of central India, reported India Today. Bastar IG Vivekanand Sinha and DIG Sunderraj were instructed to leave for Sukma to take stock of the conditions on the ground.
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh instructed MoS Home Hansraj Ahir to visit the encounter site at the earliest. “Extremely pained to know about killing of CRPF personnel in Sukma. My tributes to the martyrs and condolences to their families. Spoke to MoS Home Hansraj Ahir about attack in Sukma, he is going to Chhattisgarh to take stock of the situation,” he said.
According the reports, the jawans were targeted using IED bombs, before being fired upon in an indiscriminate manner by the naxal militants. In the subsequent gunbattle which lasted for nearly four hours, no claims of neutralisation have been made so far.
According to an injured jawan, the CRPF team was attacked by nearly 300 Naxal militants who were heavily armed. “They were around 300 and we were around 150, we kept firing. I shot 3-4 Naxals in the chest,” the injured jawan, identified as Sher Mohammed, was reported as saying by ANI.
In an encounter between security forces and naxalites in the Burkapal-Chintagufa belt of Sukma district last year, 12 CRPF personnel were killed. Centre had subsequently launched a crackdown on naxal forces in the region, killing more than 29 naxals and arresting more than 100.
Riaz Haq said…
Deadly ambush raises fears of #Maoists rebel resurgence in #India. #Chattisgarh #Modi

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…
BBC News - The defiance of an 'untouchable' #NewYork subway worker. #India #Dalit #Apartheid #Caste

Ants Among Elephants: An Untouchable Family and the Making of Modern India by Sujatha Gidla

(In New York), she says, she faced racism. And caste was right here too. She says she found "petty caste discrimination" among the Indian community.


The 53-year-old subway conductor has been luckier than most Dalits back home, women especially, who suffer unspeakable cruelty, are employed in menial jobs including cleaning of human excreta and are segregated by their communities.
Unlike most of her lot, her family was "middle class", thanks to the help of Canadian missionaries in her region who aided in education and offered them religion. Her family was thus Christian and benefited with education. Her parents held jobs as college teachers.
Gidla says that proselytization didn't help her lot. "Christians, untouchables - it came to the same thing. All Christians in India were untouchable. I knew no Christian who did not turn servile in the presence of a Hindu."
The book chronicles unflinchingly the caste slurs and segregation Gidla and Dalits like her have to endure in India.

Gidla lists how she and other Dalits are humiliated in India by other castes.
They are forced to eat from separate plates and glasses in eateries; barred from the community's main source of drinking water; allowed to ride a bicycle or wear footwear only in segregated areas; rejected in love and denied opportunities. She recalls her hurt when a junior school classmate refused to touch the sweet she offered. Things like this are constant reminders to Dalits of their status as social outcastes.
Since her teens Gidla was spurred to rebel with her uncle, the rebel Telugu language poet Shivasagar, setting an example. His call to join the Communists and later the guerrilla movement of the region demanding social justice held appeal for the young Gidla.


In America, writes Gilda, "people know only my skin colour, not birth status".
"One time in a bar in Atlanta I told a guy I was untouchable, and he said, 'Oh, but you're so touchable'."
Riaz Haq said…
#India's #Maoists insurgency-hit #Chhattisgarh state sees most #suicides among security forces this year in more than a decade via @htTweets

Suicides by security personnel posted in Maoist-hit areas of Chattisgarh have touched 36 till September 30 this year, the highest in a decade, prompting an official inquiry by the security forces, which are also figuring out possible ways to prevent suicides in their ranks. There were only 12 suicides last year.

The suicides by members of the state police force and Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) personnel posted in the state is almost three-times the previous high of 13 in 2009. Data is available only since 2007. According to the data, which is complied by the Chattisgarh police department, there have been 115 suicides by security personnel posted in Maoist-hit areas in the state since 2007 (till September 30). This year’s suicides account for almost a third of that.

According to an official posted in the state most suicides are caused by depression, difficulty in getting leave sanctioned, and homesickness. The records broadly categorise 50% of the suicides as having been caused by personal/family reasons, 11% on account of illness, 8% as work-related, and 13% under other reasons. The remaining 18% are under investigation.

The numbers have rattled the security establishment and there has been talk of going in for so-called psychological autopsies, to figure out the reason for the suicides.

DM Awasthi, special director general (Naxal operations), Chhattisgarh, told HT that the rise in suicides is “worrying.”

“A superintendent of police-level officer will be appointed to examine the causes for the suicides. We will focus on the figures of 2015 (6), 2016 (12) and 2017 to chalk out a plan for preventing suicides. We will also take the help of psychologists, if needed,” Awasthi added.

The state police personnel posted in Chhattisgarh’s Maoist-hit regions include the special task force and district reserve guard, while the CAPF personnel are from the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) and the Border Security Force (BSF).

“Suicides within the ranks demoralise security personnel, who are also greatly affected by deaths of colleagues during encounters with Maoists,” said a senior police officer posted in Bastar who did not want to be named.

Security forces have killed at least 69 Maoists so far this year, but lost 59 of their own during encounters.
Riaz Haq said…
Father Stan Swamy, an ailing 83-year-old activist and Jesuit priest becomes the oldest person to be accused of #terrorism by #Modi govt in #India. NIA arrested him in connection over a 2018 incident of caste-based violence & alleged links with Maoists.#BJP

In a video recorded days before his arrest, Father Swamy said detectives had questioned him for 15 hours over five days in July. They had produced "some extracts" allegedly taken from his computer that pointed to his links with Maoists, he said. He disowned them, saying they were "fabrications" that were "stealthily" put into his computer. His advanced age, health complications, and the raging pandemic would make it difficult for him to travel to Mumbai, he told the detectives. He hoped "human sense would prevail", he said.

Between June 2018 and now, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's BJP government has jailed 16 people in connection with the 2018 violence in Bhima Koregaon village in Maharashtra state. They include some of India's most-respected scholars, lawyers, academicians, cultural activists, and an ageing radical poet, who then contracted Covid-19 in prison.

They have all been repeatedly denied bail under a sweeping anti-terror law, which many observers believe is now being mainly used to crack down on dissent.

"This is absolutely appalling. The repression on human rights defenders has never been more extreme in India," said Sangeeta Kamat, a public policy professor at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Ms Kamat said it was comparable to 1975, when Prime Minister Indira Gandhi declared a state of emergency, curbing civil rights and imposing censorship.

"This is far more dangerous as it's an undeclared Emergency," she said.

Father Swamy had been in the crosshairs of investigating agencies for some time. Over the past two years they had raided his house twice, he said in the video, to "somehow prove" that he was linked to "extremist Leftist forces". But people who know the soft-spoken, low profile activist say he has devoted his life to the uplift of tribespeople ever since he moved to Jharkhand in 1991.

Created in 2000 to protect the rights of indigenous tribes or adivasis, Jharkhand is a tragedy. The region has long been a hotbed of Maoist violence and recurrent drought - more than 5% of its working-age population migrates every year in search of education or work.

Jharkhand is home to 40% of India's precious minerals, including uranium, mica, bauxite, gold, silver, graphite, coal and copper. But development has been uneven and has come at the cost of its tribespeople, who comprise more than a quarter of the state's 30 million residents.

Like their counterparts across India, they remain an "invisible and marginal" minority. Despite affirmative action and improved access to welfare, most of them continue to eke out a miserable existence in heavily forested, mineral-rich states.

India's tribes suffer from a "triple resource crunch", says historian Ramachandra Guha, living as they do in the "densest forests, along with its fastest-flowing rivers and atop its richest veins of iron ore and bauxite".


Since Independence, more than 1.7 million Indians have been displaced after their land was taken for power stations, irrigation projects and factories.
Riaz Haq said…
#India to face revived #Naxal #Maoist #insurgency. #Chhattisgarh

On a usual day, Silger would have been pitch black, and eerily quiet. But voices suddenly pierce the night air. The teenagers have started singing. The song is new, and has no name. But the chorus has the words “O adivasi re...jaago re”(Awake, O Adivasi). They start singing the verse, “tere saamne tere bhai ko goli maara re...tere saamne tere ghar dwaar cheen liya re (they shot your brother in front of you, they stole your home in front of you).”

On May 12, residents of Silger began protests against a new camp of the Central Reserve Police Force. For four days, the number of protesters swelled. The villagers argued there was no permission for the camp, and that it would only bring more harassment to residents. The security agencies argued that it was the villagers who had asked for the camp, that it was key to driving away Maoists and bringing any form of development, and that the protests were being pushed by Maoist cadre.

Five days later, as the number of protesters kept rising and more villages joined in, there was sudden gunfire. Chhattisgarh Police said it was an exchange of fire with Maoists in the crowd, but villagers claimed the security forces unilaterally opened fire. Three people were brought dead to the hospital. A few days later, a fourth woman succumbed to her injuries as well.

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