One lakh (100,000) men of state police, 40,000 paramilitary fighters and 11 IAF copters fail to make a difference on ground.
The biggest Maoist strike in Chhattisgarh in terms of political impact that killed 27 people, including four state Congress leaders, has once again proved that little has changed on the ground in the tribal heartland and the CPI (Maoist) remains well entrenched there, capable of calling shots almost at will.
The undetected movement of a well equipped force of over 250 Maoists that engaged for nearly two hour gun battle in broad daylight on a state highway has thrown up several questions for both Centre and Raman Singh-led state government to answer for.
The first and the foremost question that intrigues is how over a lakh strong state police machinery that has support of almost 40,000 central armed police personnel on ground and air support of drones and 11 IAF and BSF helicopters failed to track and fight such a large movement of Maoists.
While the security officials blamed vastness of the area, its rocky and jungle terrain and ill-equipped and low morale state police as reasons for unable to overpower the Maoists, activists like GN Saibaba, vice-president of Revolutionary Democratic Front of India claimed the reason for Maoist domination lies in having a popular support base among the tribals.
“The tribals have been at the receiving end at the hands of the state machinery. They have been harassed and killed by repressive governments for last 60-70 years and find a natural ally among Maoists. Till you do not have a pro-people government such situations will keep arising,” said Saibaba.
Rural development minister Jairam Ramesh indicated slackness on part of the Chhattisgarh government for not being able to change the ground situation. “If you go by statistics I don’t think we have been able to see any change in districts like Kanker, Narayanpur, Bijapur, Sukma and Dantewada in last 9 years like we have been able to see in several Maoist affected districts across Bihar, Odisha, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal…. The target of the attack was to send a message that this is a liberated zone, political parties keep off,” said Ramesh.
Prof Hargopal blamed unrelenting push of neo-liberal policies for the current situation. “This (the attack) will lead to escalation in violence. Both the Maoists and the state need to rethink. If the Maoists are struggling for the tribals, they need to be very careful of their action so that it doesn’t lead to further harassment of tribals. But the state needs to be more careful as the Constitution acknowledges aspirations of tribals. In the anxiety to be a nation state and the by pushing neo-liberal model, India has done lot of injustices to the tribals. This inevitably is pushing tribals in the Maoist fold.”