On Alleged Maoist Atrocities
While I have on several occasions expressed my disgust at the way in which the Government of India is conducting it’s ‘Operation Green Hunt’, I have to say that the news of the attacks by alleged Maoists in Chattisgarh, in which 6 villagers have been killed, and more recently a bus, with several civilians (and some special police officers) has been bombed, is deeply disturbing.
It is a totally different matter from attacking men in uniform, (such as the CRPF jawans who were attacked not so long ago, resulting in 76 casualties). Though I do not support any war, including the Maoist initiated ‘Peoples War’ or for that matter, the Government of India’s ‘Operation Green Hunt’, in any war, armed men in uniform in a combat zone are fair targets. The death of the 76 CRPF jawans, though regrettable, is not in any way different from the death of any guerrila soldiers in the PLGA in any combat operation. I refuse to be blackmailed into thinking of such an event as an evidence of Maoist ‘atrocities’.
But by no stretch of imagination can the same principles of combat be extended in operations that involve unarmed civilians, (such as the incidents that have come to light today) no matter who conducts them. Such acts are atrocities, regardless of whether the state or the Maoists conduct such operations, and they must be condemned by all sensible people in the harshest terms. The Maoists, and the state must be compelled, through relentless civic pressure, to publicly abide by the Geneva Conventions in the matter on the treatment of non-combatants in a conflict situation. (And yes, there are conventions that shape the conduct of non-state actors, or the conduct of the state in relation to non-state actors, even in the case of a ‘non-international’ armed conflict)
The presence of 15 special police officers in the bus that was bombed cannot be offered as a justification for the bombing, because a large number of people who were harmed in the attack had nothing to do with any arm of the state, they were just ordinary passengers. This is a simple and disgusting act of terrorism. It cannot be explained away in any sense as part of a campaign of liberation.
If it is true that these attacks have been carried out by the Maoists, then, it is clear that they want to ratchet up the general intensity of violence in the regions where they have a presence. They want the government to unleash a military style offensive, because nothing would serve their purpose better. There can be no other explanation for the manner of these attacks. This is a disastrous and cynical policy, which will wreck havoc with the lives of the people of the area and cannot be justified by any means whatsoever. If the government of India responds by increasing the level and intensity of the conflict, it will become an accessory of the Maoists design to totally militarize the areas of central, southern and eastern India where they currently have a presence.
If nothing else, this shows how the policy of ‘Protracted People’s War’ is bound to degenerate (and in fact is already degenerating) into an orgy of random violence, exactly as it did in Peru and Colombia, where the ‘Sendero Luminoso‘ (‘Shining Path’) and ‘FARC‘ rebels competed with the state and right-wing militias in a sad spiralling descent into armed chaos and brigandage that did nothing to fulfil any revolutionary goal. If anything it strengthened the might of the state and the right wing militias in Peru and Colombia. The Maoists actions (attacks on unarmed civilians) cannot bring about any other results either. The ultimate and only beneficiary of this process will be the state and the corporations who want total control over the forests of Central India.
However, we must not rush to conclusions. If the Maoists disclaim responsibility for these attacks, then we will have to see whether or not such a disclaimer has any objective basis. Independent investigations will have to be carried out. If, by any means, it is possible that these attacks are ‘false flag’ operations, conducted by rogue elements of the state machinery, or even endorsed by the state, then the responsibility for the violence will lie squarely on the state. It must, however, be understood by the Maoists (even if they have not perpetrated these massacres) that the style of their politics can and does ennable the state to conduct precisely such ‘false flag’ operations. If there are any amongst the leadership of the Maoists who are sensitive to the possibilities of forging an alternative radical politics they must begin considering the necessity of abandoning the disastrous method of ‘protracted peoples war’ and explore ways to an open, transparent, militant and public politics that does not involve the endless cycle of retreats and massacres.
Wherever the truth may life, this is a very sad day indeed,