Independent India has been consistent in its approach to the million mutinies that threatened the country’s unity and integrity through the past six decades and more. That pattern is something like this: popular alienation is simply left unaddressed even if the root cause remains no great mystery and is possible to be tackled; sometimes the ruling party willfully exploits the alienation to suit the needs of electoral politics (Khalistan); the wounds inevitably fester over time; and, when the wound becomes septic the Indian state cauterizes it without any anesthesia so that the patient freaks out with pain and the horrific memory of state brutality would, hopefully, linger for ever and teach a lesson.
But the wound as such is never healed. J&K and the Northeastern States are still under army occupation. Isn’t there some other way to handle political alienation in the 21st century? India prides itself to be a country with a difference in the world community as a nation of moral stature. In the international forums, it is losing shyness and has begun taking up open positions on human rights and human security — for example, on Sri Lanka and Syria in the UNHRC in Geneva in the recent months. It frequently speaks out at the UN Security Council debates — be it on Sudan or Afghanistan. These are of course only appropriate for an ambitious, aspiring regional power.
The 19 Maoists killed included a 15-year old girl, while not more than two amongst the 19 killed could be identified as left extremists. If so, who were the remaining 17 dead souls?
To be sure, Home Minister P Chidambaram is utterly preoccupied with Hafiz Saeed. Hopefully, if and when he is done with that, we may know what happened. The security people admit that “a few innocent villagers could have died in crossfire.” Pray, how few is “few”?
The most shocking thing is that the Indian political class across the board has had nothing to say. They are preoccupied with the election of India’a next president — or with the “reforms”. When 19 citizens get killed by their country’s security forces, in any civilised country in the second decade of the 21st century, some political commotion could be expected. But, not in India? The silence of the politicians points at the terrible weakening of the moral fibre of the Indian nation.
The most reprehensible aspect is the deafening silence of the established parties of the Indian Left who are, arguably, on the same ideological spectrum as the Maoists. Alright, the Maoists are rebels who got disillusioned with the Left establishment and bourgeois democracy, but they never ceased to be believers in the ideology. China can disowned them, but how could the Indian Left?
In fact, the Maoists’ presence in parts of India where the established Left doesn’t even exist shows that they have a legitimacy and credibility of their own which the established Left lacks in very large tracts of the most impoverished regions of our country that are inherently open to the egalitarian ideals of communism. An enlightened Left leadership would have sought to dialogue with these misguided elements — and a good starting point would be to commiserate with the 19 dead “comrades” in Chhattisgarh. Give them at least a decent burial.