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Humanise First

May 30, 2010

There is dismay in some sections that the FIR lodged by the driver of the ill-fated Gyaneshwari Express does not name Maoists as the suspect perpetrators. Within hours of the derailment and death of the passengers, newspapers were already lamenting that the centre did not have guts to take on Maoists. Suggestions have been made that this is an extraordinary situation and vacuous talk of human rights should not be heeded. There is a familiar taunt being hurled at the UPA government for its unmanly response to the biggest threat to the internal security of the country. The principal opposition party, which otherwise very zealously guards the rights of the state and resents any interference by the centre in matters which fall under the state list, even in one of the most extra-ordinary moments of recent history , I am referring to the state sponsored massacre of Muslims in Gujarat , now feels that the nuanced division of the rights and duties of the state and centre is not something which should keep the centre from treating the Maoist threat as a national issue and going for an all out armed intervention against the enemy of the nation.

People like me sometimes fail to understand this impatience and indignation. Is it violence or killing of the people which disturbs them? The most disturbing image of violence in the recent weeks was that of a band of youth hacking Madan Tamang in broad day light. This was an open challenge to all our democratic norms, blatant challenge to the might of the state, policemen deputed to guard Tamang making no effort to save him. At least here,the killers of Tamang stole the show from the Maoists. Did we hear any outcry from the media or the political class? Everybody, right from Pranav Mukherji down to Buddhadev  pleaded for a cautious approach. Was this a momentary show of anger which devoured Tamang? Is it not threat to the very democratic way of life that a leader of the stature of Tamang is killed while supervising the preparation of a public meeting? But we do not hear any cry for action. This does not make  national issue.

There are media persons who just cannot comprehend the reluctance of the Centre in unleashing its armed power on the ‘terrorists’ who for another section are ‘insurgents’. When the Home Minister says that he has a limited mandate, there is clamour that is persons like Digvijay Singh who are obstacles in the otherwise no-nonsense Chidambaram. BJP has been exhorting him to shed his Arjun like hesitation and take up arms to destroy the enemy of the nation.

There is an extraordinary piece in the Times Of India which has to be read to assess the level to which our analytical minds can stoop. It says:

“Dependable statistics show that the fight between an insurgent group and Indian security agencies has never been so one-sided.

Statistics, in fact, are far more frightening than what may grab headlines.

Just one Naxalite gets killed against four deaths among civilians and security personnel in Left-wing extremism-affected areas. Even at the peak of Kashmir insurgency, the casualty rate was almost equal on both sides — a terrorist was killed by security agencies for every death among civilian and security force personnel.

It was always an equal fight in that sense. The year 1996 may have been the bloodiest year in Jammu & Kashmir, when a total of 2,822 lives were lost — 1,424 civilians, 189 security personnel and 1,209 terrorists.

Even then, the ratio between the number of civilians and security personnel killed against slain terrorists was 1.33.

The ratio gradually declined over the years, and over a period of time, the security forces were able to reverse the trend.

By 2005, the security forces in Kashmir were killing more terrorists than the number of securitymen and civilians dying in violence.”

The analyst does not of course take care to verify these figures independently and does not feel the need to ask questions which any worthy journalist would ask. Questions like how many of these were civilians caught and killed by the security forces to be flaunted by them as their prized kill! And what about the role of the security forces in states which we club together as North East? What about the rampant killings , rapes, daily humiliation of the ordinary masses by the security forces under the cover of extra-ordinary laws like AFSPA and UAPA ? And above all, one has to be an absolute philistine to make such comparative charts. This is again a war-mind at work here.

Rattled by the spectacle of death enacted by the Maoists, most of the media seems to have lost its way. It is good for the nation and our democracy that Chidambaram or the central government is not swayed by this bloodthirsty frenzy. The influence of Sonia Gandhi or Manishankar Aiyyar or Digvijay Singh or the hue and cry of the Human Right wallas ? I do not care. I have a feeling that more than these influences what is weighing heavy on the Prime Minister and Home Minister is the awareness of the sheer inefficiency of the instruments through which the state has to act. The track record of the police, in Bengal or Jharkhand or Chhatisgarh has shown that they are most unreliable and most inefficient and can only worsen the situation. Extremely poor intelligence which is one of the main reasons of the killing of the CRPF contingent in Dantewada cannot be lost sight of. Is not it surprising that nobody holds the Chhatisgarh police accountable for their utter lack of preparedness and inefficiency? Since they cannot apprehend the Maoists , they catch tribals or simply kill them and present them as Militants. This is how they justify their existence. Perhaps our Central government is also aware of the utter lack of sensitivity in the paramilitary forces towards the ordinary citizens of these areas who are seen by them as accomplices and therefore punishable, either by arrest, or torture or even death. Our police , paramilitary forces and administration are not humanized enough to assist the government in fulfilling its democratic mandate.

Let us help our government in keeping its cool. Let us make all efforts to not let it fall in the trap of war which is being laid not only by the Maoists but also by forces like the BJP. Both of them agree that this is war. Because it is only war that can validate their existence. Let us not fall prey to this. Let all of us humanize our structures, ourselves.. Even if it sounds old and clichéd , let us hold fast to this poetic principle , SHOBAR UPORE MANUSH SATTO , TAHAR UPORE  NAI.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Arani permalink
    May 30, 2010 6:57 PM

    Good point about the violence/ loss of lives paradigm. However, I take issue with your analysis of the “equality” of warfare. How does the rape of civilians by armed forces acting under the AFSPA form any sort of answer to the charge that the war in Chhatisgarh is one-sided?

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