We expect the home minister of a country to, at the very least, speak with some level of proportion if not propriety. P. Chidambaram is not only counting the dead in violent incidents, but comparing the whudunnit statistics. One is aware that this unity in diversity business only works at the polite social level and for political need and greed. However, when you are in power, you have got to see each attack as not just an isolated case but with its history and the response to it.
By saying that Naxalism is more dangerous than other forms of terrorism, he is behaving like a village headman rather than a statesman:
"The most violent movement in India is not terrorism or insurgency but Left-wing extremism. While 26 people were killed in terrorist violence and 46 killed in insurgency (27 in Jammu and Kashmir), 297 people were killed in Naxal violence. That is ten times of those killed in terror incidents.”
- Is he saying that what happens in Jammu and Kashmir automatically becomes insurgency-related terrorism? Is he not aware about local groups that operate? Has he factored in security-related killings?
- What are the factors that differentiate terrorism from Naxal violence, according to him?
To this, his idea is puzzling:
"Unlike any other movement, this movement is driven by a very fearsome and brutal idea. The goal of Left wing extremism is not to bring about development but to overthrow Parliamentary democracy... their goal, their methods are directly in confrontation with the goal of the elected governments.”
Amazing. Are other forms of terrorism less brutal and fearsome? Is their intention to bring about development? Are they not in conflict with parliamentary democracy? Do they give a damn about elected governments? Why, some of these groups that are well-entrenched do not contest elections because they believe that democracy is a façade.
There are indeed ideological differences between different separatist movements, but by making this ‘fine’ distinction he is in fact alienating the populations where some of these groups do have support. How did this come about? Where was the Centre? Regarding the Maoist-ridden areas, he says that the government "does not have that much human resources”. How does the CRPF unfailingly manage to reach those districts then?
One is aware of the immense loss among the security ranks too, but here I think the home minister is clearly using a political card. The Naxals are thus far relegated to non-Congress governments, so putting the onus on the states is a strategic move and also a long-haul vote-catcher. As the home minister, he should also cast a glance at the record number of crimes committed on a regular basis right under his nose. Only because they do not have an ideology, it does not make them any less reprehensible and worrying.
Instead of providing a plan of action that entails talks with the groups, he is indulging in homilies:
"The battle is to restore hearts and minds. Not many Chief Ministers and Ministers have visited the affected areas. They should spend a night there.”
And one night will reveal all? What will the report show? "Lalgarh's lumpen"? "Danger at Dantewada"? Holed up in government accommodation, these ministers will not manage to restore their own equilibrium let alone organs of the people.
"If villagers think that Naxals are their friends and the government is their adversary, you cannot win the battle.”
This is not a Dale Carnegie book. The villagers are not in the battle. They are caught between two sides. Think about that. Some of them may be sympathetic to the Naxal cause, but they are not tying friendship bands. Democracy is not about co-opting the government by the people, but of the Establishment to make certain that the people are with them beyond electoral politics. And democracy does mean dissent as well. It is not all about winning minds and hearts.
Many terrorist movements have often managed to do so where elected governments have failed. This needs some introspection, not a head count.