Killing own people can never be a matter of pride for any nation state ~ writes Bappaditya Paul in an open letter to the Union Home minister, as the Centre prepares for Operation Green Hunt against the Maoists.
I am no man whose personal letter should matter to the Home minister of the Union of India.
But as the scheme of things often are, a typically marginalised postman is found to be carrying important messages in his tattered sack ~ for which he neither has any credit to claim nor any role to be blamed.
As I just allegorised, here the matter is far more serious than that of a young journalist, which is I am, and an experienced politician, that you are. Hence, I pray your attention, if you may please.
Sir, the other day I saw television footages of your public meeting somewhere down the South of India.
As the subtitles read (sorry, I don’t follow the language you were speaking in), you were pledging ~ as long as you have the last drop of blood running down your vein, you would not allow a revolution to succeed in India.
Needless to mention, you were speaking in reference to the ever-growing Naxalite or Maoists surge in across the Indian state and, being the Home minister of the Union, you were iterating the government’s firmness to crush the menace.
That, you don’t talk tall but mean serious business, was evident from your recent visits to Jharkhand apparently to oversee the preparations for an impending military offensive against the Maoists ~ being widely publicised as the Operation Green Hunt.
I know not, if the filmy name is the produce of the hard work of some of my colleagues in the media or the administration has indeed opted for this! Anyways, that’s not the issue.
Those of us who live in urban hubs ~ small or big, shop at towering shopping malls and seek entertainment at extravagant multiplexes, have every reason to feel heartened by your moves. After all, whoever wants to get interrupted midway on a cosy Rajdhani Express ride?
More especially, after how the deadly armed foreign militants rampaged Mumbai on 26/11, it really feels good to see our Home minister talk tough on mindless violence.
Yet sir, due to some inherent malady etched on our psyche or for some other unknown reasons, I am not quite sure of, some of us are extremely troubled by the quests that have cropped up as your military gives a final touch to the blue print for Operation Green Hunt.
You have clarified, the aim of any impeding military offensive was to put an end to the ruthless violence of the Maoists ~ blowing up of Railway installations, telephone towers, brutally killing the security personnel and so on and so forth.
Sir, ~ to end violence ~ did u say?
Well, then, may I ask, does the scope and definition of violence remain confined only to the inflicting of direct physical injury on living beings or property?
What is it called when Mukesh Ambani buys his wife a Rs 242-crore Airbus as birthday gift; while around the same time, in some remote corner of Bharat, some poor lad was giving up education for want of only a few hundred bucks?
Is this not an act of violence?
What you call it when Vijay Mallaya does a Delhi – Mumbai almost every evening on his private aeroplane, for he wants not to spend a night in the otherwise dull national capital of India; whereas, at the New Delhi railway station every dawn, scores of poor men and women queue up for hours to make it just to the general compartment (yes, believe you me!) of some train heading to UP, Bihar or some other destination in the periphery?
Such instances are endless!
I know, you would say, these enterprising tycoons have made money through apparent fair means and that the Constitution and laws of the land of this largest democracy in the Globe permit them to spend their hard-earned money, as they might wish.
Albeit, they are not allowed to buy governments, as yet!
The Constitution guarantees equal opportunity to every single citizen of India to prosper, you would argue. However, it’s another issue that only one in millions get to become a White Tiger!
Constitution, democracy ~ did you say, sir?
Whatever happens to the Constitution when Irom Sharmila Devi of Manipur continues her hunger strike for nine long years (that’s must be a world record, many Indians would be delighted!) and yet you, the custodians of democracy sit over her demand?
And what her demand is? Just take back from your Army, the free license to kill anyone on suspicion! In other words, Sharmila Devi wants the draconian Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) to be repealed from her home state Manipur.
By not paying heed to her peaceful-democratic agitation, is not the government violating the basic tenets of the Constitution? Is not the government, in other words, indulging in violence?
This is not a philosophical debate, but is much more practical when we talk of democratic values.
But I know, in this season of blind war, protecting democratic values is the least of priorities. The task at hand is to obliterate every single rebel, every single Maoist from this great socialist-democracy called India.
Only that I wonder, wherefrom so many Maoists have cropped up at Lalgarh, in Orissa, in Jhrakhand, in Andhra and so on?
They surely don’t look like the Chinese ~ I saw them on the television! The batons, the sharp weapons like hansua, dao, kudul etc that they rally with, also seem not to be Made in China and imported illegally through the porous borders with Nepal or Myanmar!
But some of them, especially the Maoist leaders, are getting sophisticated firearms from China; your Home secretary was reported as saying. Without even being privy to the necessary details, I do not rule out the truthfulness of this statement.
But what I only wonder is, how come these Chinese-arms wielding Maoist leaders have so many indigenous followers carrying household weapons? Why the Adivasis and other rural populace are lining up behind the Red flag?
We need an answer, Mr Home minister sir! We need an answer.
These rebelling Adivasis or the rural peasants might stay far from the Shining India, but they are as much citizens of this country as you and me are. And believe you me, under no circumstances; killing own people can be a matter of pride for any nation state.
Yet, if you still want to go ahead with the proposed offensive, I would suggest, don’t launch the military operations in the jungles of Jharkhand alone.
Instead, simultaneously launch an umbrella offensive across the slums of Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and other blooming cities. For, languishing under the towering high-rises as they are, these slums across the length and breadth of India would eventually become the breeding ground for more and more Maoists.
As they say, it’s always better to prevent than cure!
(The author is a journalist with The Statesman (India), currently posted in Siliguri, West Bengal.)