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Reign of terror

Reign of terror

Author: RK Vij
Publication: The Indian Express
Date: October 09, 2009
URL: http://www. indianexpress.com/news/reign-of-terror/526916/0

The inhumane and merciless murder of Inspector Francis Induwar of Jharkhand Police, by those claiming to operate hefty schemes like 'Janatana Sarkaar' (people's government), has exposed their real face once again. Many such instances have taken place in other Naxal-infested states. Until recently, before being pronounced as one of the most serious threats to the internal security of the country, Maoism was mostly downplayed by various actors of civil society including the media, irrespective of a higher death toll and the gruesome lynching of men as compared to other acts of violence. The list of martyred security men, which is read out on every 21st October (on 'Shaheed Diwas') is growing longer. Fearing the governments' more focused approach now, Naxalites are trying to spread waves of terror once again. Whenever their senior cadre are arrested or killed in exchange of fire or their very existence is challenged, they take recourse to brutality.

Inspector Hemant Mandawi of Jagargunda Police Station was killed when he was assisting the villagers repair an interior road in order to restore public transport. His feet were severed, as the Naxals wanted his shoes. In another incident, Central Paramilitary Force (CPMF) personnel's eyes were smashed with sharp weapons and hands cut to remove wrist watches. In the village of Kudur in Bastar district, policemen were ambushed with Claymore mines and then charred to death. In Ranibodli in March 2007, one of the rooms of the police camp was bolted from outside by the Maoists, and petrol bombs thrown inside towards the unaware, off-duty police personnel. Some escaping security men were targeted from tree tops, killing a total of 55 police officers including 36 Special Police Officers (SPOs). As if this couldn't pacify the Naxals quest for sadism, they laid down Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) all around the building to hinder even the evacuation of casualties. The charred bodies of the SPOs - who were all local residents of surrounding villages - could not be recognised even by their kin. Similarly, when a Chhattisgarh Electricity Board (CGEB) party was on its way to repair a blown up high tension tower near the dreaded 'Zhara Ghatee' of Narayanpur, its truck was blown up with an 80 kg plus IED, killing 3 civilians. The explosion was so intense that various pieces of their bodies had to be gathered from as far as 300 metres. These were handed over to their families in bag-shaped folded bed sheets, without us even knowing whether they belong to the same person or not. The law of the jungle applies to the public as well. On-the-spot killings of civilians in the name of dispensing quick justice in 'jan adalats' (public court) is an old-fashioned governance style of the Maoists. Tying hands behind and beheading with sharp weapons is the Maoists' favoured method. Showing disrespect to dead bodies is routine. Killing men and tying hidden IEDs to their dead bodies is yet another ploy to misguide the police and invite them to the scene of crime for inquest, leading to more explosions and more casualties.

Many seized documents have clearly shown that the birth of 'Salwa Judum'(meaning peace march) in June 2005 in South Bastar infuriated the Naxalites. The villagers were forced to flee due to continuous attacks and escalating fear. The state government, realising its constitutional obligations, promptly responded and created rehabilitation camps to provide people with basic amenities. Though Salwa Judum came up as a self-motivated people's movement in a response to the Naxalite atrocities, it was soon dubbed as a state-sponsored move. This is a well thought out propaganda by the Naxalites to malign the government. Quite a few times, the Naxalites have dared to attack even the rehabilitation camps. Though most of such attacks have been foiled by the police force, yet an attack on Errabore Rehabilitation Camp (situated on the national highway), left more than 30 killed and many injured. The fact is that the Naxalites were shaken by the increasing strength of the Salwa Judum and its commitment to re-establish peace in the area. The spurt of violence is due to the retaliation by the Naxalites in the face of the rising popularity of Salwa Judum, which led them to intimidate people so that they do not ever raise their heads.

Presently, there are about 3,000 SPOs, who assist security forces in the maintenance of order in Naxal-infested areas. These SPOs have played an important role in breaking and weakening the network of the Naxalites. Naxalites' brutality has not even spared the families of the SPOs. Many SPOs have been killed, only to discourage them from associating with the police.

The number of policemen who sacrificed their lives in the line of duty was about ten only until 2004, but this number shot up nearly eight-fold in the last four years. Similarly, the number of civilians killed by the Naxalites was less than 70 till 2004, but swelled to more than 200 in 2006. This further strengthens the fact that the Maoists were afraid of the people's resistance groups which had rejected their ideology in their own stronghold. The attacks on schools, panchayats and ashram buildings have unravelled their hollow talk of development. They are even opposed to developmental works. Schemes like 'Jantana Sarkaar' are being propagated only to hide their ugly face, smeared with cold blood. A country which was built on the edifice of non-violence cannot accept the ideology of armed struggle for class annihilation. Such mindless brutal killings by the Maoists must act as a wake-up call for civil society.

- The writer is a senior police officer of Chhattisgarh

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