Setting up forces to combat Maoist insurgency is all very fine, but what about addressing some real issues—development, health, education, income generation—in these forgotten lands so that the poor don’t have to lean toward subversives ideologies (On War Footing, Oct 26)? India right now seems to be shining only for the well-heeled.
C.K. Jaidev, Dubai
For the Maoists, your cover story will be a godsend. It’ll help them escape to safer havens before operations begin.
Somshankar Bandyopadhyay, Calcutta
Ever since it has become known that the government will be launching an offensive in Maoist-affected areas, a prominent TV channel has taken to calling these areas ‘enemy’ territory. It constantly refers to its reporters bringing exclusive reportage from “behind enemy lines”. This is gross misrepresentation and even goes against the stance of the Indian government. Against an enemy force, our armed forces direct ‘maximum force’, whereas against your own citizens, who may be misguided and may or may not have legitimate demands, the emphasis is on use of ‘minimum force’, the larger objective being to win over the hearts and minds of people.
Lt Col (retd) Nilesh, Korgaokar, Bangalore
The government is trying to cure the symptom rather than the disease. Waging a war against its own people will only worsen the humanitarian situation in the affected areas.
Sadiq Siddiqui, Mysore
Thanks to Outlook for merging the state of Andhra Pradesh (or parts of it) with Karnataka in the map. No more fights for spinning off a Telangana state... they’ll be too busy trying to get back Andhra as a whole first.
Aggie Rag, on e-mail
This government strategy will only generate more Naxals than it kills.
P.P. Panda, Ahmedabad
That the Maoists succeeded originally owes directly to the State’s failure to provide governance in 30 per cent of the country. Unless it stops treating this as a law and order problem and addresses real development concerns, the government will find it impossible to whitewash the red.
Rakesh Agrawal, Dehradun
The solution to the Maoist ‘menace’ lies not in a military offensive but in undoing the years of neglect on the socio-economic front by both the central and state governments. Way back in the ’90s, as a qualified counter-insurgency and jungle warfare specialist, I volunteered to train the C-60 boys in Gadchiroli and beyond and ran three courses for the Maharashtra Police. The boys, mostly tribals, were wonderful, but ill-trained and ill-equipped. They did not know how to throw grenades; no one had trained them in weapons or the basics of field and battle craft; section formation or section and platoon battle drills; ambush or breaking of ambush; raids on hideouts, road clearance or convoy protection. There isn’t a single grenade- throwing or firing range in the country. More than 80 per cent of the 2-inch mortar bombs and grenades we fired then did not even explode as they were old. The boys carried leaking water bottles and got ambushed when they went to village wells to draw water. They did not even have proper boots or rucksacks and were expected to do deep penetration patrols. Thanks to the then SP Gadchiroli and the dig Naxal, I was able to impart training and provide equipment to the boys, and was able to ward off casualties for the next five years. But then everyone went off to sleep as there was no policy or roadmap. My plea for economic development in the area, like the army did in Mizoram, too fell on deaf ears.
How far does the government hope to go if all it does is strangulate those who cry? What else is the Maoist movement originally if not a cry, now swelling into a roar of defiant indignation? If anything has to be undertaken on a war footing, it is development, not war itself.
Anangsen, on e-mail
You do not need to be a genius to figure out why the government has suddenly upped the ante against the Maoists. The whip was cracked on Manmohan Singh at the recent G-20 meet to open up the Indian market. From my limited knowledge of Indian geology, Chhattisgarh has industrial grade diamond (IGD). Used for precision cutting of high grade steel like that used in submarine manufacture, IGD sells at a price far higher than the diamonds used in jewellery. The only two nations known to possess IGD are Russia and South Africa. Now the Indian tribal lands seem another resource and the West is putting pressure on India to deliver mineral goods. Alas, both the Congress and BJP are united in supporting this; only someone like Mamata can lead a counter-crusade.
Pinaki S. Ray, Adelaide