Living in the Shadow of Insecurity
Just when the people had begun to think that the Union Ministry of Home Affairs was seriously engaged in dealing with the naxal threat, the small sense of satisfaction was shattered on 6th April 2010 by the killing of as many as 76 professional men of the CRPF by the Maoists-naxals in Dantewada in the State of Chhattisgarh, one of the many hotbeds of naxal activities.
The relatively easy manner in which the moving forces were trapped, ambushed and killed like sitting ducks shocked the nation and even the Prime Minister and the Home Minister. Less than two months before, on 15th Feb. 2010 over 25 policemen were killed in an attack on their camp by Maoists in West Bengal.
This worst-yet attack on the security forces by the Maoists has once again shown the Government in poor light. The Dance of the Demons on 26th Nov. 2008 in Mumbai proved beyond doubt that the Government at that time was utterly incompetent to perform its normal function of ensuring the safety and security of the people from terrorist attacks from outside. Once again the specter of continuing insecurity is haunting the people, this time more particularly in relation to the increasing strength and spread of Maoist-naxal insurgents within. The capability of the Government in having a clear vision, developing a workable strategy and effectively executing it, is in serious doubt.
Everyone, from those directly concerned to experts to arm-chair advisers to the people at large are now engaged in thinking about what might have gone wrong, how the government strategy was faulty, poor leadership, how poorly motivated or trained the forces are, wrong intelligence, and what should be done now. Clearly, the task of tackling growing insurgency in large parts of the country where the writ of The State does not seem to run, is a matter of the deepest concern for all as it challenges the authority of the constitutional governments.
Many approaches have been suggested – long term, short term, heavy hand, hearts and minds, direct, outside-in or inside-out approach etc. Perhaps, the situation in each affected area would present unique ground realities which may require a specific response strategy and plan. There may be lessons to learn from the insurgency in other parts of the world such as Peru (Sendero Luminoso of Guzman). All these are serious issues the consideration of which must be left to the policy makers and experts within the goverment. What is undeniable is that the use of the regular army or the air force should be the very last resort (other than logistical support) because apart from the fact that their minds are trained for warfare of a different kind altogether, their use would seriously question the government's ability to deal with our internal problems. What is equally undeniable is that the forces must be properly trained and motivated and provided with the necessary weapons and wherewithal. Considering the growing influence of the naxals, it may even call for a force within the CRPF and the forces of the States, specifically trained for anti-naxal operations.
The most important issue that needs to be answered arising from this latest affront to our national cohesion is:
WHERE DOES THE BUCK STOP
When it became clear that the entire operation planned for an objective had gone wrong, the Minister of Home Affairs, Chidambaram, accepted moral responsibility and on his own offered to resign. In all probability, the resignation offer is just a public acknowledgement of the gravity of the event and not meant to be acted upon. This comes days after Chidambaram incurred the anger of the West Bengal Chief Minister for having told him that the buck for failure in dealing with naxal situations in West Bengal stopped with the latter.
But the latest event is not a pointer to who really is responsible. The prime responsibility for the constant fear of insecurity which the people feel and which, unfortunately, is even more strengthened by events such as Dantewada, is the total lack of seriousness of the UPA govt. led by Congress and absence of a clear view on terrorism and naxals for over five years. The casual approach, paralysis and paranoia of the previous UPA government are continuing to harm the country and will continue to do so for years to come.
The country is paying dearly for the absence of a clear view on terrorism by the UPA Government led by Congress. The benumbed response to terrorism and internal security issues in general over the last five years provided ample time and opportunity for the Maoists to get emboldened and get entrenched in newer areas as well.
While Chidambaram has accepted his moral responsibility, as he should, the person who really should be accountable but is not, is the Puppeteer Sonia Gandhi. In common perception, the lack of policy on terrorism was influenced largely by her paranoid but false fears of losing votes. Beyond that, the lady committed a cardinal blunder by nominating as Home Minister a thoroughly incompetent Shivraj Patil, purely on the basis of his sartorial foppery and blind loyalty to her family. In over four years of his continuance as the Home Minister, Patil excelled himself to achieve the distinction of being responsible for the darkest period in the internal security of the country. He proved himself to be the worst Home Minister in our history, much like another colleague from his home state, Sharad Pawar, who has distinguished himself as the worst Agriculture Minister ever. ( see here)
Chidambaram, who has mercifully been divested of the Finance Portfolio, is down to doing his job as the Home Minister with a commitment that was completely absent in his predecessor, Shivraj Patil. To what extent Chidambaram succeeds only time will tell but he is certainly not warming his chair like Sonia Gandhi’s nominee. That Patil submitted his resignation with reluctance and Chidambaram has done it on his own, speaks volumes about Patil. That he has since been given a gubernatorial position speaks volumes about Sonia Gandhi.
It is just as well that Chidambaram has accepted that the buck stops with him. Sonia Gandhi who must share the blame for the internal security situation as it developed over the last five years is basking in the false glory showered by her sycophants for the women’s reservation etc. Did she express one word of remorse or sympathy? No Sir, she is made of sterner stuff. She cannot be bothered with the safety and security of the people. She is concerned only with bouquets, not the buck, which must stop somewhere else.
It cannot be said with any certainty that the entire Government is of one clear view on terrorism and naxalism. What, if any, is the stated policy of the Government on these two aspects must be clearly enunciated. And its implementation in right earnest must be there for all to see. Sadly, the Government has never appeared to be clear about its position as can be seen from the following full page advertisement that was released after the Dance of the Demons in November 2008.
The headlines scream :
(which Gandhi is meant? why not Mahatma Gandhi?)
It goes on to say:
And the meaningful lines:
This is a prime example of an advertisement with utterly mindless content and without realising the import of what message was being conveyed. The main objective, of course, was to somehow show the face of Sonia Gandhi centrestage in a Government Advertisement at public expense of over one crore rupees.
If the views of those in Government have not changed much, the people may see another advertisement shortly, at least half page, as visualized below.
May the People Keep Eternal Vigil Themselves!