Some Hard Facts
The Times of India (14 July 2010),
The concentration of the Dalit population in the Naxal-infested areas is quite high. Poverty, lack of land reforms, caste discrimination and oppression and denial of access to justice push the Dalits closer to the Naxals.
- In the last five years, Naxal violence has claimed the lives of over 10,000 civilian and security personnel.
- Out of a total of 10,268 from 2005 to May 2010, 2,372 were killed in 2009 as against 1,769 in 2008 and 1,737 in 2007.
- In 2009 alone, the Naxals targeted 362 telephone towers, many schools, roads, culverts, etc.
- Naxals are targeting the poor in India, and there is no dearth of poor in India from whom they get their recruits. The tribal villages in Chhattisgarh, where the Naxals thrive, live on less than fifty rupees a day, which is one of the lowest in the country. In the Northeast, the tea estates seem to have become the breeding grounds of the Naxals.
- In Orissa, 72 percent of the adivasis (the indigenous minority of the population of India, the term often used synonymously with tribals) live well below the poverty line and here the Naxals are becoming more powerful by the day.
At the national level, 45.86 percent of all adivasis live below the poverty line. This means that almost half of India’s original inhabitants go to bed every night starving. Several anthropometric studies have revealed that successive generations of adivasis are actually becoming smaller, unlike all other people in India, who benefit from better and increasingly nutritious diets. Adivasis are not the only group being targeted by the Naxals for recruitment. Overall, all poor people, including Dalits, are being targeted by them. The concentration of the Dalit population in the Naxal-infested areas is quite high. Poverty, lack of land reforms, caste discrimination and oppression and denial of access to justice push the Dalits closer to the Naxals.
The government has to tackle the Naxal problem on a war footing by using a multipronged attack. It has to gain the confidence of the local population by taking up more welfare-related activities and ensuring that these really reach those who need them.
According to R. S. N. Singh, associate editor IDR,6 the Maoist movement may have started off on purely altruistic terms but has metamorphosed over the years into an ugly monster indecipherable from its original avatar as encapsulated in this incisive description.
Shorn of its utopian charade, Naxalism in its present form boils down to a movement that is barbaric (as evidenced by Dantewada) at times, mercenary in a large measure, populist only in name and antinational in character. So, let us see this movement for what it actually is. It is time to strip the rosy glasses from the eyes of the local population which glorifies them. Why imbue them with a fake aura of moral rectitude?7
But is armed repression the answer? The Bihar chief minister, Nitish Kumar, has said “enforcement action” alone is not enough to tackle the problem—this actually could lead to further alienation of misguided youth, who are also part of the affected society.
According to Raman Singh, chief minister of Chattisgarh, the country must rise above the constriction that the Naxal problem is the concern of any single state. It is a national problem and a national strategy is needed.