Attacks on villagers help the Maoists

"The Economic Times"

24 Mar, 2011, 06.08AM IST,ET Bureau

 The government maintains a 'nuanced' strategy of accelerated development and better policing shall continue to be its response to the Maoist problem. But if reports that indicate that security forces are on the rampage against villagers in Dantewada are to be believed, they would wholly negate the integrated process that must constitute the battle against Maoist violence. 

Razing the homes and granaries of some of the poorest people in India , murdering men and raping women, as the security forces are alleged to have done, is nothing short of the scorched earth policy that actually ends up buttressing the Maoist argument that the campaign against them is nothing short of a war being declared by the state on its own people. 

Such behaviour, which does not distinguish between Maoists and tribals, constitutes the frenzied response that the former, perversely, want. Time and again, the Maoists have committed heinous massacres. But this sort of a brutal response is precisely what fortifies their argument of the need for violent revolution. 

Such instances, therefore, also negate the success the operation against the Maoists has had so far. This instance in Dantewada also should not, and cannot, be brushed off as the aberrational acts of a few members of the security forces. Nor should, as the reports suggest, attempts by the local police to suppress information about what actually happened be allowed to succeed.

An effective investigation must be launched forthwith, and if culpability is established the perpetrators must be punished and the victims justly compensated. There is simply no other way of defeating the Maoist logic which survives on extant deprivation of the marginalised being compounded by the suffering and destruction an unrestrained military campaign causes such sections.

Unravelling that logic does mean intelligent, even aggressive policing methods, but not wiping out people. Such incidents, simply, make all talk of delivering the other, equally necessary, facet of the campaign, inclusive socio-economic development, sound meaningless. They must not recur. The message must go down firmly.