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Chhattisgarh Naxal attack: 'Failure' to address Adivasi concern over their natural resources

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat* 

The brutal Naxal attack on the security forces in Chhattisgarh is a reminder of how the Naxals have amassed huge weapons to 'protect' their zones. It is a complete intelligence failure on the part of both the Central and state governments who allowed this massive assault to happen. This was the same region where earlier the Maoists had ambushed security forces killing them in large numbers.
Chhattisgarh's Congress leadership was virtually wiped out by the Maoist attack in Sukma. If this is a dangerous terrain, then the Central intelligence agencies must ponder as to what is the reason for this continuous failure, because there is no other region where the Naxal attack on security forces has been so intensive.
With this kind of violence, no sane government will appeal for peace. The security forces are expected to follow the 'rule of law' and should do the same. At the same time, no one should encourage them for violating their own code of ethics, because that is the difference between private militias and professional forces, who are there to protect the people and the region.
It has been seen that in the din of avenging deaths, many in the security forces make the ordinary Adivasis their victims. One can only hope that they won't do it this time. Targeting Adivasis and assaulting them for this would be playing in the hands of those who wish to strengthen their narrative against the security forces.
As Naxals have now confined to a few zones, it seems their desperate attempt to assert their 'presence' in the region and the violence unleashed by them will harm the Adivasis and ensure more government money being pumped in for security purposes, thus ensuring entry of the big corporations, which is being resisted by the Adivasis.
It is sad that the real issues have been pushed to the backburner as successive governments have not ensured Adivasis anything new. Their forest rights are under attack, and not much land has been given to them in these regions. Will the government in Chhattisgarh as well as the one in Delhi come out with a comprehensive package to ensure the protection of Adivasi land and their participation in the decision making process of the region they belong to?
The irony is that Chhattisgarh has more outsiders as 'landed' and 'business' people, but the Adivasis and Dalits remain the same. The Adivasis, perhaps, can't even think of having a chief minister from their community in the state, as for all the practical purposes the outsiders have had more stakes in Chhattisgarh than the local people. How long will this inequality be allowed to continue?
Will the government come up with a comprehensive package to protect Adivasi land from corporate loot?
Equally important for the government is to sensitise the Central forces about the sensitivity of the local population, particularly the Adivasis. Treating every Adivasi as a Maoist falls in the trap laid by those who 'glamorise' them as 'revolutionaries' . Maoist violence actually legitimizes the Central government efforts to militarise the zone and hand over the beautiful natural resources to the big corporates.
If the government really wants to eliminate violent insurgency in Chhattisgarh and elsewhere, it must address the anxiety of Dalits-Adivasis and ensure their voice is heard in all the decision making processes. There is a need to strengthen the Provisions of the Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996 or PESA in all the forest zones and provide them autonomy, build schools, and credible public health system. Also, one must ensure that young Adivasi leaders flourish, and their concerns are heard. Without that it won't be possible to tackle the issue of violence.
Most of the jawans in our armed forces as well as para military forces hail from kisan families. One knows their pain, as they have to go in a different terrain, follow the order and lay down their lives. They live in difficult circumstances, and their service terms and conditions too are far inferior to their other counterparts.
Indeed, the internal security battles are extremely tough. Treating them as a mere law and order problem will not work. It is time for our political class to ponder and sit along with diverse sections of people, including the people of this region and other zones, listen to their voices and do the needful.
Adivasi zones need everlasting solutions and such brutal violence only helps those who do not wish Adivasis to live peacefully. Let the Adivasis be given autonomy over their regions to decide about their future and developmental work, and we will see a big change.
Our condolences and solidarity with the families of the martyred security personnel. One only hopes the government will do enough to take care of their families so that they don't suffer in future.
---
*Human rights defender

Comments

Anonymous said…
india is the worlds largest democracy. democracy is also always biased and selective. invariably the disenfranchised suffer in a democracy

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