By Aanchal Khulbe:
Move to the periphery of the country’s thickly populated mainstream population and you will meet a community of the deprived and of the marginalized. Having been taboed as ‘low in origin’, nobody can deny that the Adivasi community has been dealt with acute disdain both by the Hindu community as well as the State. These groups have been living on and tilling the same land since the inception of time. Now, the debate is that the state’s claim to take this land and involve it in the State’s use is legitimate or not, and can the use of arms by one group to fight the injustices imposed on them be justified?
Adivasi comprises the tribal groups which contain the indigenous population of India. They are directly attached to the soil and form an unbreakable network with the environment, which is the chief basis of their survival. They live in cloistered and remote environments, isolated from the general public of the nation. Technologically, they are tremendously poor and have to rely on primitive knowledge of agriculture for a livelihood. These societies have been found residing majorly in 11 states of India, apart from others where they are found in smaller groups. These sum up to a population of 70 million among the nation’s total population of 1.2 billion. Now, the most pressing questions areÂ whether the interests of such a large amount of citizens can be put to stake only to fulfill the needs of a capitalist state? And is violence the only way to ask for rights?
There has been an ongoing war between the Government and the Adivasi community, principally on the issue of land. The State has pressed its demand for land from different groups of Adivasis since Independence. The reaction has been stern and violent. In 2009, the Government of India implemented a large scale attack on the Maoists in 5 states by the name of “Operation Green Hunt”. Within two years, more that 100,000 army personnel were being deployed in ten states. In June 2014, 10,000 more troops have been added to this. In addition to this, the BSF, the ITBP, CoBRA and a fleet of Mi-17 V5 have been engaged.
Violence begets violence. The Maoists have come out on roads with guns and swords. 25 policemen were killed by the attack organized under the Maoist leader Kishenji. Two months later, 75 CRPF policemen are killed in a jungle ambush.The Maoist attacks have resulted in an immense loss of roads and infrastructure.
One of the greatest tragedies about the controversy revolving the Adivasis is that it is very difficult to organize them under one name, to mobilize them and prepare a demand draft, so that things are taken care of meticulously, rather than an angry group of protesters pulling the trigger at anyone who comes their way.
The new government has taken up power with renewed provisions for attack on the community. Flagging Maoist areas as the “most dangerous zones”, the Modi Government has assured special monetary benefits and extra promotions to the security personnel working in these areas. The home ministry has announced the deployment of 10,000 additional army personnel operating in the Maoist-hit areas. Apart from increasing the number in the Central Reserve Police Force, the declaration of employing 3000 CoBRA (Commando Battalion for Resolute Action) commanders has also been made.
The Maoists have organized themselves under the political party by the name of Communist Party of India (Maoists), and have entered the political game to take this fight to the next level. Their decision to announce a guerrilla war against the State has been the cause for their utter unpopularity. Whether they have an intention to kill anyone or everyone they think might harm them in any way or not does not matter. The fact that a number of innocent people are killed due to their negligence cannot be ignored on any ground. We have seen apology letters from Maoist leaders when innocent people have been injured or killed. But can that be enough? Probably all they want is an unobtrusive ownership of land. However, the use of force only alienates them further.
The Adivasi community finds itself helpless among the resourceful forces of the government, which is adamant on the seizure of land, which happens to be their chief source of livelihood. So, why should a community not fight for its land, its rights? When protests and dharnas don’t help, that’s when you pick up guns. However, is this the correct way to place a demand for your right? To declare a state of war against the very body which makes the laws and governs you? Their stand might be morally justified, but can we risk the lives of the rest of the population of the country based only on this? Maoism might be a rational phenomenon, but unchecked violence in its name is certainly not.