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2.30 pm May 31, 2013

Is the Indian State's approach to meet the Maoist challenge flawed?

Successive Central and state governments in India have viewed the Maoist problem through the prism of intelligence and security and attempts at dialogues have been perfunctory at the best. Is it time to revisit the Indian State's policy towards tackling the Maoist problem?
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19 questions answered | 5 questions pending
  • Hi Nandini, Thank you for demanding civil rights for millions of Adivasis. You have articulated the ‘sandwich theory’ that the Adivasis are caught up between security forces and Maoists. Do we have sufficient evidence of documented cases of innocent civilians harmed by Maoists with exception to illegal salwa Judum elements and alleged police informers? What alternative choices available for Adivasis to defend themselves against state terror, operation green-hunt and illegal salwa judum death squads? Asked by: -Surya Kiran
  • Nandini Sundar Since you clearly think you know all the answers, why ask the question. The "sandwich theory" as a term of abuse is ridiculous - you simply don't understand the situation on the ground.
  • In central India, has any serious effort been made for talks between the Maoists and the government (State/Central)? If not, why? Asked by: rajesh
  • Nandini Sundar There was an attempt by Swami Agnivesh to mediate, but the police killed the Maoist leader Azad while he was carrying the letter regarding peace talks, so that scuttled the process.
  • The peace talks failed in Palestine (Oslo), Sri Lanka and Andhra Pradesh. People’s movements suffered significant losses after the peace talks in AP and Tamil Eelam. Security forces misused with sabotage, infiltration, covert operations during the ceasefire. What are the alternatives available to civil society to restore peach? Mass movements or peace talks? Asked by: - Surya Kiran
  • Nandini Sundar Since there is no alternative, one has to keep trying
  • i donot understand why are you drawing wrong analogies from vietnam, afghanistan and kashmir in you approach to naxalism...it is a simple governance issue...people in governace should be responsibe and should respect their job...what do you think? Asked by: ajay
  • Nandini Sundar It is not a question of one or the other. Of course, we need good governance - which we don't have at the moment. But right now, we need justice. The government is refusing to implement the Supreme Court's orders asking it to disband SPOs, vacate security forces from schools and restore them to children, prosecute those responsible for HR violations and so on. The first thing they need to do, is obey the Supreme Court.
  • i think we need to follow punjab model to defeat maoists Asked by: Sathyaki
  • Nandini Sundar No we don't. That led to a lot of deaths, and anyway, the situation is quite different in central India, and that will not work here.
  • i think we need to introduce a good rehabilitation policy for such tribals Asked by: Sathyaki
  • Nandini Sundar On the Supreme Court's directions we had prepared a rehabilitation police for people affected by the Salwa Judum, but the Chhattisgarh government has repeatedly stalled it. Overall the country needs a proper rehabilitation policy, but that alone will not address all the issues. We really need to question what counts as development.
  • Is there anu solution to the naxal problem..or it will continue to exists Asked by: Ramaleswar
  • Nandini Sundar justice and talks
  • The biggest hurdle in solving this problem, between the state and the maoist, there are lot of vested interest. Ask what the MOIASTS demands are, am sure 90% can be addressed, 10% will be contentious, which can discussed. Rest all is false positions taken by many.... Asked by: SE
  • Nandini Sundar see answer to similar question
  • What are the demands of naxalites Asked by: Jivan
  • Nandini Sundar As stated in their press release after the attack, they want the paramilitaries to be pulled back from adivasi areas; the release of the hundreds of innocent adivasis who are in jail; an end to the MOUs being signed between government and industry giving away public land and so on. Many of their demands are things the government should be doing anyway under the Constitution - it should not require the Maoists to say this. But unless there are talks, we will not really know what the Maoists are demanding.
  • Do you think negotiation between indian gov. and moist after such a henious and brutal genocide will lead to peace in naxal dominated areas in india? Asked by: amit
  • Nandini Sundar Yes, there is no alternative to negotiations. The sooner it comes, the more bloodshed we can avoid on all sides. Also, this is not the first major attack - either by the Naxals or the government. In fact, just the week before, the security forces had killed 8 innocent villagers in Edesmeta village in Bijapur, including 4 children.
  • Can't the policies which were used to counter terrorist in punjab be used to counter naxalism Asked by: Mahan
  • Nandini Sundar The policies used in Punjab were often unconstitutional - thousands of innocent people died as well. But above all, the Khalistan militants by then were losing the support of the people, whereas in Chhattisgarh and elsewhere, the Maoists continue to have public support, especially because of excesses by the security forces.
  • 1. How many innocent people do you estimate are killed annually by Maoists? 2. I think we should all remember where Maoism will take us eventually - Indian version of "great leap forward". The chinese version killed between 18-45 Million people. Do you agree? Asked by: Venky
  • Nandini Sundar We need a full estimate of all the people killed - whether by Maoists or by the security forces. Right now, one of the major problems is that we don't have such a figure. The government only releases figures of people killed by Naxalites, and while we estimate that roughly 1000 people were killed by the salwa judum and security forces during the peak Salwa Judum years between 2005-2007, we don't have a full list. We cannot have justice on the basis of partial counts.
  • Very well executed Rehabilation programs can take care of any amt of displacement, provided, the displaced are made a party to it. Ex : The rich bauxite mines in NIYAMGIRI HILLS are of no use to the tribals, but this can be of use to the country. On their own, the tribals cant excavate, process, make alumunium out of the ores. Use part of the money so generated by the industrialist for the rehab of tribals, is it so contentitous Asked by: SE
  • Nandini Sundar We need a holistic view of what "development" means. The rich bauxite mines of Niyamgiri are what ensure water downstream, and the adivasis there are fighting not just for their own place, but also for the environment. Imagine a world without water - which is what will happen if you cut down all the forests, and mine all the hills.
  • Does the problem of Naxals exist in other countried also apart from India Asked by: Rohit
  • Nandini Sundar They are not called Naxalites elsewhere because Naxalbari, from where they get their name, is specific to India. But there are very similar movements elsewhere, especially in Latin America. In both Peru and Guatemala, the indigenous population (like our adivasis) were killed in large numbers in the conflict between left wing movements and right wing governments. However, they resolved them through truth and reconciliation commissions and peace talks. Killings by both sides were accounted for, compensation given and some basic issues addressed. In Colombia, FARC and the Government are also coming to some agreement on land reforms. The situation there is very similar to India.
  • Isn't diagnozing the Maoist problem as against the "idea of India" itself a problem? Asked by: vaishali
  • Nandini Sundar Yes. The idea of India is one that is continually being made through the struggles of its people - all manner of struggles and all manner of people, from dalits, women, to middle classes and others, fighting for dignity, against corruption, to defend their resources etc. The Maoist movement is also part of the Indian people's continual struggle to deepen democracy, though one may disagree with its methods.
  • Deploing army to the naxal affected area is solution to this problem Asked by: Rakka
  • Nandini Sundar Deploying the army has not been a solution either in Kashmir or the Northeast. In Manipur, despite the use of the AFSPA, the number of underground insurgent groups has only grown. Some are against the state while others have been sponsored by the government itself. Even the US army has not been able to defeat insurgents in Afghanistan and nor were they successful in Vietnam.
  • Recent attacks shows maoists have huge mass support in Chattisgarh. without mass support no one can make such attack on state and its apparatus and survive. How the state can overcome this ? Asked by: Aneeb
  • Nandini Sundar Yes its true that the Maoists have mass support in Chhattisgarh. The state can only overcome this through justice and talks.
  • Who is sponsering maoist interms of arms and money Asked by: Jivar
  • Nandini Sundar I don't have information on this - but from what is publicly known, I can say that some of the money comes from contractors and industrialists, and some of the arms are looted from the police; while others are locally manufactured.
  • Are maoists really fighting with realisic principles or just producing traitors against the country? Nexus between political parties and maoists is also responsible for setback for development activities in naxal affected regions right? Govt has willpower to stop flow of illegal money towards maoists to carry destructive activities? Asked by: Vinod K R
  • Nandini Sundar We need to think clearly about what we mean by traitors. Are those involved in big scams and looting of public money and resources not traitors? Are the spot fixing IPL cricketers not traitors? Why do people think of poor adivasis who are defending their resources, with or without the help of the Maoists as traitors and not patriots? The adivasi rebellions have often been called the first wars of independence in India. But yes, the Maoists also take money from industries and contractors to allow them to work in their area; just as those in the local administration do. This whole system should be challenged, in favour of a transparent administration, where local people decide on their own resources.

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Nandini Sundar
Professor of Sociology, DU