India's War on Maoists Threatens Economy, Civil Rights
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.
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.
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.
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