The Chhattisgarh government has no clear strategy to tackle Naxalism, Salwa Judum founder’s son tells Newsd
Chhattisgarh is on high alert after the brutal Naxal attack killed at least 25 paramilitary personnel on Monday. The attack that is said to be the worst in the last seven years, took place between the Burkapal-Chintagufa areas in the Maoist centre of Bastar. In 2010, insurgents killed 75 CRPF troopers in the same region. And there are countless such instances, which refuse to abate. Salwa Judum founder, Mahendra Karma’s son, Chavindra told Newsd that Salwa Judum will start again if required. “There is no Salwa Judum currently, but in future, it can come. We proposed the ‘Salwa Judum 2.0’ in front of local leaders last year but we need to wait,” Chavindra said. “We will start Salwa Judum in future if needed. We have to in order to protect ourselves. If we don’t start it, we won’t be safe. For our own protection, we have to fight. We cannot rely on the government for our own protection.”
In 2013, 25 leaders from the Congress party were killed including former state minister, founder of ‘Salwa Judum,’ Mahendra Karma, in a Naxal attack. Karma’s death was an extreme case of brutality, as he was stabbed 78 times by a handful of hardened female combatants. The gruesome information of Karma’s murder was relayed to CRPF’s elite CoBRA commandos by two shepherd boys who witnessed the entire episode.
“Karma was taken away from the roadside into a thicket and asked whether he wanted to put on fresh clothes or have his last meal… then a dark complexioned woman fired a shot in his back. But he did not fall down. Another woman broke his leg with a log of wood and he collapsed. Soon, other women joined her and began stabbing his face,” a report quotes one of the commandos as saying.
Chavindra feels that the problem of Naxalism is on the rise in Chhattisgarh and the government has no proper strategy to tackle the issue. Whenever some brutal incident happens, the state does nothing but criticise. “From the very start, the government is just saying that they will take action but has done nothing. They have never taken the issue seriously,” Mahendra Karma’s son Chavindra Karma said in an exclusive chat to Newsd.
There are many groups in these areas from Naxals to Sangams. In 13 years, the government has not even recognised this fact. “When they are not even able to identify the enemy, how will they fight them?” asks Chavindra.
Although the government is constantly claiming that it is combating Naxalism and made hundreds of Naxalites surrender, the continuous attacks portrays a different story altogether. “If the government really made hundreds of Naxalites surrender, then why there have been so many attacks? Why this brutality is still continuing? This shouldn’t have happened if the administration is tirelessly working towards ending Naxalism, as it claims,” he said.
“The recent attack on 25 jawans shows that there’s no substance to what the administration claims,” he added.
Naxalites in Chhattisgarh enjoy the support of locals and this makes them more powerful than the forces, Chavindra said. The locals are vulnerable and have no other choice; besides the CRPF has failed to win people’s trust, he said. “People are supporting Naxals as they have no choice. When the government cannot protect its personnel, how will they protect people?” asks Chavindra.
Salwa Judum began in 2005 as people’s resistance against the Maoists. Chavindra claimed that if Salwa Judum would have continued its fight and if the government would have relied on it, the Naxalism would have been towards its end today. In 2011, the Supreme Court of India had termed Salwa Judum as “illegal” leading to its disbanding. “The reason that Naxalism is still so prevalent is because the government, even the current government, has never really wished to tackle this issue,” claims Chavindra. The apex court’s judgement has only helped to further encourage the Naxal cause rather than thwart it.
According to Chavindra, if one wants to end Naxalism, they have to think beyond politics; trust local leadership as they are aware of the geographical conditions, and sit with them to plan and form a strategy. “As of now, only the security forces are fighting. No local bodies and villagers are involved. This won’t bring any fruitful result,” he added.
The condition of people who were associated with Salwa Judum is also alarming. With no protection forthcoming from the state government, the villagers are constantly hiding from Naxals. They have nowhere to go and if they return home, the Maoists will kill them, said Chavindra.