ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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A Savage War for ‘Development’

The Maoists have come under relentless attack and have suffered a setback in their main stronghold, the Bastar division in southern Chhattisgarh, but, contrary to official claims, they are far from being wiped out over there. Fifty years after the Naxalbari uprising, the resilience displayed by the Maoists provides continued political relevance to the “spark” that lit Naxalbari in May 1967. But there is a long road uphill and ahead.

Spread over 40,000 square kilometres, according to Census 2011, the Bastar division of Chhattisgarh has a population of 23,48,808 persons. With the deployment of 58,772 central paramilitary force personnel and another 50,000 of state armed-police personnel, the Bastar division has a security-personnel-to-civilian-population ratio of 1:22. Its jails are overcrowded to the extent of three times the prison capacity, filled with Adivasis charged with what is called “Naxal offence,” and waiting for the criminal justice system to set them free. The report of a High Level Committee headed by Virginius Xaxa, submitted to the government in May 2014, brings this fact to the public notice.1

In contrast, crimes committed by government forces—rape, murder, fake encounter, custodial torture, and loot—are seldom recorded or investigated. The National Human Rights Commission found 16 cases of rape by the custodians of the law, in six months, from October 2015 to March 2016. Although Maoists have suffered losses and retreated into their guerrilla base area, nevertheless, government forces have so far failed to engage the People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army (PLGA) frontally. The state government claims that the Maoists are on the verge of defeat. In February 2016, the Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh Raman Singh said that 95% of Bastar is “safe”; that Maoist activity is confined to “maybe ... a small ward” and, he assured the reporters, they would “very soon” be part of history.2

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Updated On : 29th May, 2017

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