Sukma Attack and My Loss of Sleep

Let me start this post with a few disclaimers:

1. I was reluctant to write on this topic because I don’t BS in my writings and speaking truth about this topic is full of thorns.

2. I am Anti National Humanist, therefore I have no bias for the State or against the Maoist and vice versa.

3. I condemn the killings of the CRPF jawans but am not sure if it is violation of their right to life because the soldiers relinquish their right to life on joining forces. Ditto for Naxals.

Now coming to the facts of the case. In India it is an undisputed fact that certain areas are not under the State control and the State is trying hard to regain control of these areas. The area where this attack on CRPF personnel has taken place is one such area, which lies in the Bastar region. For all practical purposes, Naxals run the government there. I will not get into the debate whether they run the government efficiently and fairly enough, for I am not sure if the Indian courts provide justice either. In fact, the present government is making all efforts possible to bring in a comprehensive totalitarian State, and the courts have only played mute spectators till now — or probably they have supported the State. So, my main point of interest is how to reconcile this loss of human lives.

But I need to setup the context first. It is extremely unfortunate that some people have to become soldiers. Nations are to be entirely blamed for it. It is obvious even if there were no nations, some belligerent members of the society would have taken up arms and suppressed the weaker sections. However, the growth of nations and the access to sophisticated technology has led to militarism, which has made preparation for war a full-time job for some unfortunate male members of the society, who end up living an extremely subordinate existence under an illusion of service to the nation. Militant rebels also have soldiers, who live even more desperate lives. For example, the average comfort in the life of a militant Naxal is nowhere compared to the comforts enjoyed by an Indian soldier. An Indian soldier gets far more respect from far many more people courtesy the propaganda campaign of the State. If the life of a Naxal soldier is juxtaposed with that of an Indian soldier, the Indian soldier would win hands down. Naxals must be having a very strong conditioning program for their forces, else it’s just not understandable why anybody should take so many discomforts in his life.

It is in the above context that the Sukma attack has to be seen. As per media reports, around 25 CRPF personnels have been killed in the attack. Though CRPF claims many Naxals were also killed, but there are no official numbers. This is mainly because the Naxals have not released any numbers and the Indian media hardly has any access to the Naxals otherwise — this also shows the bias of Indian media towards the Indian State. Naxals are guerilla fighters and surprise element is an essential feature of their military strategy. So, it is quite possible they didn’t suffer many casualties. However, I am least interested in numbers. What I am more interested in is the loss of lives, for which I first need to establish the locus standi of the Indian State in that region.

The Indian State claims territorial jurisdiction over the Bastar region under the Indian Constitution. However, at the same time, it grants special status to the region as that of a tribal area. This status is actually a paternalistic grant trying to reconcile the long-standing conflict of the tribals with the Britishers. But the grant failed as it was mere window dressing. The Indian government did nothing different and the conflict continued unabated even after the Independence. Then the Naxals took over. The Indian State may like to claim that the tribals have been misled by the Naxals, but the reality is entirely different. The Naxals have only provided a framework to the tribal unrest, and if what the author has written in the book The Burning Forest is to be believed, it happened after a long struggle of the Naxals to gain trust of the tribals. But of course now the Naxals have become masters of their fates. Still whatever may be the system existing between the Naxals and the Tribals, it provides a comfortable inertia. This inertia was attempted to be disturbed by the Indian State by building roads in the area, which the Naxals despise as it affects their control over the tribals. Also, eventually the Indian State would like to exploit that area for mining, which might not be in the best interest of the tribals though it’s a different matter that the Naxals also allow mining in the area, albeit at a subdued level.

So, that’s how the Indian State derives its locus standi. It promises development and better future to the tribals and better profits to the big business through exploitation of natural resources. Of course, for that, they will have to first eliminate Naxals. This is a plain simple war of might. The Indian State with far greater might was trying to change the inertia of the region and the Naxals retaliated because they saw it as a sign of their own elimination. I hardly have anything to chose between the two warring entities. Certainly, I would like peaceful negotiations between the State and the rebels, but where is the scope for it when their interests are so much at divergence with each other. If this conflict is so inevitable, there will also be some bloodshed, however much we may despise it. Sometimes it would be Naxals, yet at other times it would be Indian soldiers.

So, wtf! Why have I wasted one and a half hours writing this post in the wee hours of the morning (3.45AM to 5.15 AM to be precise)! This is what abrupt waking up from sleep does to you . You start wasting time on non-events. I hope I would not have to wake up again in the middle of the night ever again like this. Good Night (or Good Morning, if you have already woken up)!

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Ankur Mutreja is an advocate-cum-writer, and his blogs are amongst his modes of expression. He has also authored six books: "Kerala Hugged"; "Light: Philosophy"; "Flare: Opinions"; "Sparks: Satire and Reviews"; "Writings @ Ankur Mutreja"; and "Nine Poems"; which can be downloaded free from the links on the top menu.

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