INDIA'S FORGOTTEN WAR – blogging naxalism.

Archive for the ‘Salwa Judum’ Category

Helping the Insurgency- One Human Rights Violation at a Time

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The Asian Centre for Human Rights has released its 2009 report on India. It can be found here.

The report heavily criticises the conduct of the state in their war against the Naxalites. In particular, the government and security force’s conduct in Chhattisgarh, the epicentre of the conflict, comes in for a drubbing:

The security forces and the state sponsored civilian militia Salwa Judum cadres were responsible for gross human rights violations in the name of counter insurgency operations.

Of course, the standard line amongst apologists for a flawed counter-insurgency policy is to question the neutrality of organisations such as the Asian Centre for Human Rights. This may be a reasonable strategy when defending the indefensible, but it’s hardly convincing.

Much of India’s disjointed anti-Naxalite counter-insurgency strategy is counter-productive. Setting aside for a moment the morality of a scorched earth campaign (which is, in effect, the approach that has been taken in Chhattisgarh), such an approach doesn’t work in a country such as India.

Terrorising a population into submission and ensuring that the cost for individuals and communities who support insurgents is intolerably high can work, if it works at all, only in a more monolithic and authoritarian state. In a state like India, the terror can and always will be limited in scope and scale. The result is simply creating more resentment and fear, further boosting the credibility and the ranks of the Maoists.

Salwa Judum is a failure. The creation of SPOs is a failure. The forced re-settlement of Adivasi is also a failure. The government needs to be smarter and more flexible than the Naxalites. Of course, there are the two priorities of a unified response as well as smart development measures targeting areas at risk from Naxalism. Equally important is the deployment of flexible, highly mobile and disciplined troops who can respond to information gleaned both from real-time monitoring and the cultivation of so-called human intelligence. This will not be possible if the state alienates the population by sanctioning brutality against the innocent.

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Liberated Zone- Dantewada Attack

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Dantewada is the closest that the Naxalites have come to establishing a ‘liberated zone’ in India. I was in the area in 2008 and the local commander of the CRPF told me that the state controls nothing but the Salwa Judum camps and the main road during the day.

A poverty stricken part of the country, Dantewada’s primarily indigenous population coupled with a lack of infrastructure and guerrilla-friendly terrain has made it ground zero in India’s Maoist war.

On the eve of a re-polling (the first round of voting was suspended after a successful Naxalite-called boycott), the Naxalites have struck again, killing at least 11 in a landmine blast. The dead included members of Salwa Judum, the CRPF and the ill0trained, often underage, quasi-official Special Police Officers.