Listen to Adivasi voices and empower them to counter insurgency

Vidya Bhushan Rawat

(Asian Independent)- The brutal Naxal attack on the security forces in Chhattishgarh is a reminder of how they have amassed huge weapons to ‘protect’ their zones. It is a complete intelligence failure on part of both the Central and state government who allowed this massive operation. This was the same region where even earlier the Maoists had ambushed the security forces earlier killing them in large number.

Chhattishgarh’s Congress leadership was virtually wiped out by the Maoist attack on them in Sukma. If this is a dangerous terrain then the central intelligence agencies must ponder as what is the region for this continuous failure because there are no other regions where Naxal attack on security forces like this region.

With this kind of violence, I don’t think any saner government will appeal for peace. The forces are expected to follow the ‘rule of law’ and should do the same. No one should encourage them for violating their own code of ethics because that is the difference between private militias and professional forces who are there to protect our people and region. Of course, in this din of avenging the deaths, many of them make the ordinary adivasis their victims and we sincerely hope that they wont do that. Targeting Adivasis and assaulting them for this would be playing in the hands of those who wish to strengthen their narrative against the security forces.

As Naxals have now fast confined to a few zones and it seems their desperate attempt to assert their ‘presence’ in the region, the violence unleashed by them will only harm the Adivasis and ensure more government money being pumped for security purposes thus ensuring entry of the big corporations which is being resisted by the Adivasis. It is sad that the real issues have been confined to backburner as government have not assured adivasis anything new. Their forest rights are under attack and not much land has been given to them in these regions. Will the government of Chhattishgarh as well as that in Delhi come out with a comprehensive package ensuring protection of Adivasi land and their participation in the decision making process of region they belong to.

The irony is that Chhattishgarh has more outsiders as ‘landed’ and ‘business’ people but the Adivasis and Dalits remain the same. The Adivasis, perhaps, cant even think of their chief minister in the state as for all the practical purposes now the outsiders have more stake in Chhattishgarh than the local people. How long will this inequality be allowed to happen ?

Equally important for the government to sensitise the central forces about the sensitivity of the local population particularly the Adivasis. Treating every Adivasi as a Maoist falls in that trap laid by those who ‘glamorises’ them as ‘revolutionaries’ . Maoist violence actually legitimise the central government efforts to to militarise the zone and hand over the beautiful natural resources to the big corporates.

If the government really want to eliminate violence insurgencies in Chhattishgarh and elsewhere, it must address the anxieties of Dalit-Adivasis and ensure their voice is heard in all the decision making processes. Strengthen PESA in all the forest zones and provide them autonomy, build schools, and credible public health system in those regions. All the young leadership of Adivasis to flourish and listen to their concerns as without that it wont be able to tackle the whole issue of violence.

All the Jawans in our armed forces as well as para military forces hails from kisan families. We know their pains too as they go in different terrain, follow the order and lay down their lives. They still live in difficult circumstances and their service terms and conditions too are far inferior to their other counterparts. The internal security battles are far tougher and is a bigger mind game. Treating it to a merely a law and order problem will not work. It is time for our political class to ponder and sit along with diverse sections of people including the people of the region and other zones, listen to their voices and do the needful. Adivasi zones need everlasting solutions and such brutal violence only help those who do not wish adivasis to live peacefully. Let the Adivasi be given autonomy over their regions to decide about their future, developmental work and we will see a big change.

Our condolences and solidarity with the families of the martyred security personnel and hope the government will do enough to take care of their families so that they don’t suffer further.

– Vidya Bhushan Rawat
April 5th, 2021