Caught Between the Military and the Militant by Dr. Mohammad Manzoor Alam (MAY 28, 2013)

Trapped in the pincer head of private terror and official counter-terror, common people have nowhere to run, writes Dr. Mohammad Manzoor Alam.

In this beleaguered country not a day passes without the news of gruesome murder of innocent people in the name of counter-terrorism, or the attack on security personnel by real terrorists resulting in death and destruction. Add to this toll the regular mass murder of Mulsims in what is erroneously called communal riots.

Within a week of the massacre of several tribals, including children, by security personnel has come the counter attacks by Maoists in Chhattisgarh in which 24 people have perished, including the state Congress chief, his son and the anti-Maoist vigilantes group Salva Judum’s chief. Eight of the deceased were personal security officers attached to the victims.

Common people in Chhattisgarh are frightened by the intensity of violence, and common people outside the state see it as a great loss as both sides are Indian.

Also, the worst sufferers are the undefended tribals, on whom both the military and the militant have trained their guns. Naturally, an armed response to the Maoist menace only fuels the war further.

There are definite economic and socio-political reasons for the alienation of the tribals to which respected voices like Mahashweta Devi, Arundhati Roy and Nandini Sundar have repeatedly been pointing. Military, and even more military, action is not the way to go. It is civil strife, requiring civil, sensitive political dialogue and action.

The Centre and the state would be better advised not to escalate the conflict and do something to bring the temperature down. The terrorists in any case will be brought to account for their deeds, but errant security personnel who have been wantonly killing innocent tribals (like last week’s massacre) also must be punished to check further alienation of the tribals.

What is most disturbing, however, is the role of the BJP government of Chhattisgarh which refused the victims security cover even though they had asked for such bandobast. How do we interpret it? That a BJP government will shirk the responsibility of providing security cover to the opposition? So, how does it reflect on the protocol and traditions of respect and care for the democratic opposition?


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