Homeland Security

'invisible Violence' that consumes India
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Issue Net Edition | Date : 01 Feb , 2011

On Monday, LeT militants dragged two teenaged sisters from their house in the Kashmir Valley and killed them in the most brutal manner. It served as reminder that the situation in the valley has not changed and the calm that has prevailed in the last two months was misleading. The protest against these killings has been muted. If the perpetrators had not been militants, the Kashmir valley would have been on fire. The silence of human rights groups on the incident is conspicuous. This is indicative of the level of intimidation by the militants in the Valley.

Every efforts by the security forces to dispel this environment of fear is thwarted by anti-nationals, which includes pro-Pak elements, religious fundamentalists and some human rights and media organizations. The same is true for the Maoist affected areas as well.

The Union Home Minister, in the ongoing Chief Minister’s Conference on security has relied on low civilian casualty rates to prove the point that security had improved in most terrorist and insurgency affected areas in the country. The Home Minister must realize that low civilian casualty is also an indicator of common people increasingly yielding to the Diktats of terrorists and insurgent groups.

Our attention span and emotional engagement with incidents relating to internal security has become directly proportional to the magnitude of the ‘visible violence’, like 73 CRPF personnel killed in Chhattisgarh or the hostage of crises in Bihar or the attack on Gyaneshwari Express in Bengal.

As we get inured, our tolerance levels and appetite for ‘visible violence’ also increases.

But what about ‘invisible violence’!

The press does not report because it is not tangible and therefore has no news value, the legislators could not care because they have benefited from it, and in absence of political direction, the bureaucrats have neither the backing nor the courage to influence the environment on ground. In the process, the state apparatus begins to erode, making way for anarchy.

The policy-makers must realize that reacting to “˜visible violence can buy them temporary reprieve, but their inability to read and deal with “˜invisible violence will cost them India as a modern and democratic nation-state.

Some real settings and related incidents highlight physical, economic and psychological havoc that ‘invisible violence’ can wreak on the lives of people and whole generations as such are narrated below.

Setting-A: Kashmir

A 24-year old girl walked into a security forces camp and insisted on meeting the commander. She confided in the commander that a militant from across the border had been forcibly stretched the hospitality of her family for past several years in the name of jihad. Sometime later, she said, he also began to abuse her and a stage came when he began to draw perverse pleasure in burning her with cigarettes. She said she could not take it any more and wanted to see him killed. One morning, based on her information, an operation was launched and the militant was killed.

In another incident, a Kashmiri boy studying in Class-VIII sought appointment with the Commanding Officer of an Infantry Battalion. On meeting him, the boy became inconsolable. He then narrated that a militant often came to his house and forced himself on his college going sister. One day, based on the information by the boy, a cordon and search operation was launched and the militant was eliminated.

There are thousands such stories regarding atrocities by the Pakistani jihadis on women of Kashmir.

Privately, the separatist (read pro-Pakistan) leaders in Kashmir ask the women to endure the assault on the dignity quietly for the larger cause of jihad.

Setting-B: A Village in Bihar

The Maoists in order to make inroads into the village decided to terrorize the villagers by murdering one of the most respected persons in that area. One afternoon, about 200-300 Maoist cadres descended on his house and ignoring the wailing of his wife and children, carried him to the nearby fields and beheaded him. The village was terrorized. The police did come to investigate, but in times to follow, could do nothing to disabuse the terror from the minds of the villages. Some of the inherently criminal elements amongst the some villagers joined the Maoist ranks. Nobody in the village could thereafter question their writ.

In the next 10 years, these very Maoist cadres met their cruel end at the hands of their comrades. One of them was cut into pieces for hobnobbing with the rival leftist group. Yet another committed suicide after some of his comrades on a night patrol came to his house and physically exploited his wife.

Few years later, another cadre, who committed a murder at the behest of the Maoists, managed to reach the nearby police station and died there, but not before handing over a note that he had consumed poison due to atrocities perpetrated upon his son, also a Maoist.

Setting-C: A Village in West Bengal

On 5 September 2010, on the Teacher’s Day, the Maoist beheaded a primary school teacher in West Bengal in full view of little school children, who had terror on their faces and hearts, indelible for the rest of their lives. The Maoists reportedly suspected the school teacher of being a police informer. The primary school since then is closed and so are many schools in the Red Corridor due to the terror of the Maoists.

He (common man) is bewildered, why the government or the civil society should even entertain the idea of having “˜talks with criminals, and what right does the government have to pardon them. He wonders whether it pays to be a law abiding citizen. He does not know which principles and values to live by and to live for.

Setting-D: Manipur

A newly Commissioned Army Officer, was stopped from coming home in Manipur by his proud father because he felt that his life was in danger because he had chosen to join the Indian Army. Terror in Manipur and Nagaland has driven youth to violence and drugs. Many of them have been consumed by HIV. A sizeable section of Manipuri students outside the state are meeting their educational expenses by resorting to drug smuggling.

Setting-E: Andhra and Jharkhand

In 1989, the former Indian Air Force Chief, Air Chief Marshal Dennis La Fontaine, who had chosen to settle in rural Andhra Pradesh, was robbed of his pistol by the Maoists. In fact, he was tied up with the chair and he remarked whether they were revolutionaries or dacoits?  Twelve years down the line, i.e. in November 2001, he was again robbed of another pistol. Comparing the two incidents La Fontaine said: “The confidence of the teenagers this time was much higher because they were better armed.” In 1989, he maintained: “That seemed a ragtag bunch while this one came in jungle fatigues, boots and caps.” The State, however, did not show any resolve to tackle the menace of Maoism in the intervening years.

Now, the latest victim is a Group Captain of the Air Force, R K Prasad. He was made to pay Rs. 10 Lakhs for the release of his brother who was kidnapped by the Maoists in Jharkhand in this very year. The officer wrote to the Home Minister and was subsequently given a very patient and concerned hearing by the Defence Minister and the Defence Secretary.

Armed forces personnel hailing from the Red Corridor are being subjected to intimidation and extortion by the Maoists for at least two decades now. The families of the servicemen residing in their native places are being forced to part with their hard earned money to fill the coffers of the Maoists.

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The views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of the Indian Defence Review.

About the Author

RSN Singh

is a former military intelligence officer who later served in the Research and Analysis Wing, or R&AW and author of books Asian Strategic and Military Perspective and The Military Factor in Pakistan. His latest book is The Unmaking of Nepal.

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