BY RSN SINGH
According to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) 30 percent of armed cadres of the Maoists are women. Mr RPN Singh, the Minister of State for Home in the Lok Sabha said: “In recent incident of Naxal attacks participation of substantial number of female cadres have been observed. A large number of female cadres have also died in exchange of fire with the security forces.”
Women are also being used as human shields. In the Maoist attack on 25 May 2013, in Darbha valley of Sukma district of Chhattisgarh in which 27 were killed, a bullet ridden Mahendra Karma, the prime target, was stabbed more than 70 times by the women cadres. Mothers and sisters are being robbed of their natural compassion and turned into killing machines. Children are being denied childhood. The boy, who was handling the radio set of the Maoists during the attack, was no more than 10 years old. As per latest reports, Maoists have recruited nearly 10,000 children including girls for their outfits ‘Bal Sangham’ and ‘Bal Dasta’. These children are between the age of 10 and 15 years. Some students of JNU, recipients of higher education nearly completely subsidized by the State, celebrated the killings at Ganga Dhaba outside the campus. This is what indoctrination can do to the so called educated!
In the third week of August 2013, a former student of JNU ‘Hem Mishra’ was nabbed in Gadchiroli in Maharastra. He was carrying coded information in a microchip embedded in a visiting card. The coded information was from top academic functionaries to the CPM Special Zonal Committee. Only a few days back i.e. on 12 September 2013 Maharashtra cops raided the residence of Delhi University professor G N Saibaba based on the disclosures of Hem Mishra. Delhi University and JNU has many teachers of Saibaba’s ilk. Maoist terror philosophy seeks to destroy the haloed symbiosis between the teacher and the disciple.
Wreck of State and Economy
The Maoists are criminalizing women and children of this country. Their souls are being brutalized. Their souls are crying to be salvaged by the State. The gruesome murder of Mahendra Karma and VC Shukla, has created such terror that no political activity can be carried out without the sanction or collusion of the Maoists. In this atmosphere of unremitting terror, there cannot be free and fair elections. In the Red Corridor there are many legislators in the country, who owe their position directly to the machinations of the Maoists. It runs across the political spectrum. Maoists are hence perverting the Indian Constitution in the name of ‘revolution’. The authority of the Constitution cannot remain in suspended animation. Women, children, student, teacher, Constitution and above all democracy—the Maoists have wrecked every family, societal, and State institution.
In the Maoist controlled areas it is not only the people and democracy are in survival struggle, but macro economy and national development are also being bled to die by unremitting and well calibrated assault by the Maoists at the behest of inimical powers both external and internal. The latter is more redoubtable as it enjoys patronage at the highest levels both by Constitutional and Unconstitutional mechanisms, which intriguingly, the political class including the Prime Minister, are seen too scared to question. One such institution has been the National Advisory Council which has usurped functions which legitimately is the responsibility of the Prime Minister and his cabinet.
Subversion of Mining Industry
As per a report, 203 out of 708 police districts in India are impacted by Maoist terror. In 90 districts killings are endemic and in 27 districts the writ of the Maoists runs uncontested by the State. The Mining industry contributes significantly to the extortion business of the Maoists. All industries including Mining pay something between seven percent and ten percent as levy. Government sources reckon the annual budget of the Maoists between Rs.1,500 and Rs. 2,000 crores. Calculating the government’s total outlays on infrastructure and development and the current levy rates of the Maoists, issued in black and white, this author’s estimates are fivefold more. The victims of extortion are not only contractors, traders and businessmen but government officials and politicians as well. Those who refuse, pay with their lives. In this kind of environment of terror, can there be any investment and economic growth?
The ‘Red Corridor’ inflicted on India engenders the major economic drag because the corridor embraces the mineral heartland of the country. Is Maoism in India in its contemporary phase predominantly proxy attack on India’s primary sources of growth? Is there a deliberate ploy in scripting tribal narrative to the Maoist terror? Are the Maoists being prodded by inimical powers through a subverted dispensation to ruin India’s economic growth by destroying the very fuel of economy, i.e. the mineral resources? In this regard, figures given by Shekhar Gupta in his article, ‘Current Accountability Deficit’ in Indian Express, are revealing. The salient aspects of the ironical downturn of the mineral rich Indian Mining Industry’s economic story highlighted are:
- India has been experiencing a continuous negative growth in mining since 2010. Between 2011 and 2013 (till date), the decline has been -2.37 percent.
- Many steel mills in India are surviving on imported scrap. In fact, between 2010 and 2013, the iron ore and iron scrap import doubled from $7 billion to $14.9 billion. Our Iron ore export from 117.37 million tonnes was down by 87 percent last year.
- Steel production of China is 780 million tonnes as compare to India’s production of 80 million tonnes.
- Notwithstanding the fact that India has the third largest Bauxite reserves, aluminum plants may now have to import the same. Again the contrast is stark, i.e. China with no bauxite reserves, produces 20 million tonnes of aluminum as against 1.5 million tonnes by India.
- India, which has large reserves of coal, is importing the same at a cost of $16 billion.
- Import of coal and iron ore are substantially responsible for the present Current Account Deficit.
Very significantly, the author attributes a remark by Deng made 30 years ago that within 25 years, China should control 90 percent of world’s rare metals and minerals (gadolinite, cerium, scandium and yttrium), key inputs in modern electronic and telecom gadget. Close to envisaged, China now controls 80 percent and uses it as leverage against Japanese companies like Panasonic and Sony. Of the remaining 20 percent more than half is with India, but cannot be accessed due to the Maoist menace.
Maoists, in order to wrest control of all mining activity, attack mines, instigate strikes and destroy equipment, machinery and transport on fire. Only last week i.e 18 September 2013 they set ablaze the conveyer belt at the Bacheli iron ore mines of National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC). Bacheli and Kirandul located in Bailadilla hills in Dantewada constitute the largest iron ore mines in India. Together they produce 25 million tons which dwarfs the second NDMC facility with 5 million tons.
The Maoists endemically disrupt transportation of minerals by railways in the mining regions. The Kirandul-Kottavalsa (KK) line that extends from Dantewada in Chhattisgarh to Vizag in Andhra Pradesh used for iron ore transport from NMDC’s Bailidila mines to Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Ltd is frequently targeted. Locals maintain that illegally mined iron ore in the Saranda Forest region and areas around Jamshedpur are routed by Maoists to China. The Saranda Forests has the world’s single largest of iron ore estimated to be around 2000 million tons. Located at the tri-junction of Jharkhand, Odisha and Chhattisgarh this area is strategically critical for the Maoists. The Maoists, as per some sources, earn Rs.500 crore from this region alone by way of protection money from mining companies. Those companies which are engaged in illegal mining, i.e. beyond their leased areas have to contribute liberally to the Maoist coffers.
For the Maoists the Mining Industry constitutes the main source of supply of explosives used for destruction of human and economic targets throughout India. According to the Government of India, 900,000 kg of explosives between 2010 and 2012, enough to destroy a town, was stolen and diverted to illegal miners and Maoists.
Shrinking of Secure Economic Space
The Maoist corridor when viewed in totality with other volatile regions impacted by insurgency constitutes more than 40 percent of Indian territory. It clearly indicates that the secured space in India has shrunk to half. As a consequence the economic space is also becoming restricted. Which respectable industry or business, internal or external, would like to invest in the Red Corridor or the Northeast or in Kashmir? Imagine India’s economic growth and GDP if only peace and tranquility was allowed to prevail in these areas. Just in Chhattisgarh and Odisha investment worth $46.7 billion in power projects and steel plants were expected by 2012. Mining sector accounts only for 2.8 percent of GDP despite vast resources of iron ore, coal, copper, bauxite and other minerals.
Economists have been attributing various reasons for the frightening economic downturn of India. None of them however have considered the aspect of deteriorating internal security in the Indian heartland as a reason for economic downslide. India does not figure in the top 20 destinations for investments by the European Union (EU-27) in the next five years. China continues to be the favourite. An editorial in a very respective German newspaper, Frankfurter Allgemeine, commented about India: “……Supreme Court directives are routinely flouted. Crime rates are up and security of life…… which is the responsibility of every government is at its lowest ebb. India must be more than qualified to be called a ‘Failed State’.”
It appears that the executive head of India has been by design circumscribed by extra-constitutional setups like the National Advisory Council. This cannot happen without subversion by external and internal powers. This was more than apparent when members of the European Commission descended in Chhattisgarh to witness the legal proceedings of Binayak Sen? Till today, not one government functionary has given any reason as to why and how Binayak Sen was appointed member of a Health Committee of the Planning Commission soon after he was granted bail.
This author was invited for an inaugural screening of a documentary at the India International Center in Delhi, on ‘Illegal Mining in Karnataka’. The main purpose of the event seemed to launch ‘Save Binayak Sen Campaign’. In the audience, there were communists of all shades i.e. Maoist sympathizers and those ostensibly part of political mainstream. It raised serious doubts whether the distinction between the two was for convenience and public consumption.
With the shrinking of India’s secured space, agriculture is also suffering acutely. In the Red Corridor, there are huge swathes of agricultural land lying uncultivated because the owners have fled due to Maoist terror. It is estimated that at least half a million people have been internally displaced. It is the Maoists who are in fact causing food insecurity in the country.
The Mischievous Tribal Narrative
It is a mischievous myth propagated by vested interests that all Maoists are tribal and all tribal subsist on forest produce.
The reality is that a majority of tribal are dependent on agriculture for their livelihood. It is again an outrageous propaganda to portray the Maoist corridor as a ‘tribal corridor’. As per the MHA, the ‘severely affected states’ by Maoism are Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Bihar and Jharkhand. 32 districts in Bihar are impacted by Maoist terror, and not one has tribal majority. The tribal population in Odisha is 22 percent and in Jharkhand, which was carved out of Bihar has only 26 percent (as per 2001 census). In Jharkhand it is not more than 3 districts, i.e. Lohardaga, Paschmi Singhbhum and Gumla have tribal majority.
India then needs to seriously ponder as to why Europeans are so concerned about tribals of India. The Maoist Communist Party, Manipur in a press release on 09 December 2011 revealed the support by various ultra-leftist outfits based in Philippines, Malaysia, European countries and Canada. There seems to be a convergence of economic and religious agendas in the sudden and hysterical turn to the tribal discourse with regard to Maoist insurgency. By killing all economic activity these western outfits are only improving the fertility of the area for the ‘conversion’ harvest. They resent economic development of this region because it acts as antidote to their religious agenda.
Economy: Victim of Religious Agenda
Some social activists and politicians in the government have been citing traditional religious belief of tribal in denying land for mining, but they have no qualms about the same beliefs being trampled by missionaries engaged in conversion. The missionary influence has in fact eroded much of the tribal cultural heritage, which was linked to traditional mythology, beliefs and rituals. Unlike Mexico and Guatemala where the missionaries fused Christian and tribal practices, as evidenced by representations of Mayan Gods on the walls of some Catholic churches, the emphasis in India has been on altering the entire historical, cultural and religious identity of tribal.
The opposition by Western quarters, directly and through their NGOs, to mining of bauxite around the Niyamgiri Hills in Odisha by Vedanta in the pretext of tribal religious beliefs is crass opportunism and hypocrisy. It may be mentioned under the same pretext and tribal narrative, the Church of England sold its stock in Vedanta, which actually is a UK-based company. It appears that these vested interests have hired ‘supari’ killers within the Indian dispensation to kill Vedanta.
The missionaries have proved to be a curse for social unity of the tribal. This fissure in social unity due to religious conversion resulted in the gruesome killing of Graham Staines in Odisha. It was primarily responsible for the murder of Swami Lakshmanananda Saraswati in 2008 in Kandhmahal area. This nexus between the Maoists and the Western missionaries explains the visit of a delegation from the European Commission to witness the trial of Binayak Sen. This also explains the kidnappings (allegedly staged) of two Italians; Paolo Bousco (58) and Claudio Colangelo (61). Paolo has been trekking in Odhisa for many years. Both the Italians had gone to Odhisha jungles despite travel advisory by their government. Both were abducted intriguingly from the Kandhmahal area where most Maoist terrorists are Panna caste Christians and the Maoists discourse in the region has strong Church and anti-Hindu elements.
In April 2012, nine French tourists were deported from Bihar as their activities in the interior of the State betrayed Maoist links.
These ultra-leftist groups have been conducting meets in Europe in support of Peoples War in India being waged by the Indian Maoists (Read More Here). These are attended by the Maoists leaders, sympathizers and benefactors of the Indian Maoists.
Communism, which includes the ultra-leftist stream and proselytization, breed and expand only under conditions of poverty, deprivation and lack of self-worth amongst the targeted population. It is the ‘self- worth’ of Indians that is under attack by the current dispensation. Government ‘handouts’ are calibrated in a manner to create a culture of dependency. Poverty alleviation measures are designed to perpetually consign populations to subsistence levels. Poverty can only be perpetuated if developmental efforts and conditions are constricted by politics of terror. It cannot be done without the indulgence of inimical powers and interests.
India’s economy has shrunk to dismal proportions because the secured space in the country is shrinking at a frightening rate. The coalescence of the economic and religious agenda of powers inimical to India is too stark to be denied any longer. The purpose of the creation of extra constitutional bodies is also very clear.
Economic growth and development is anathema to the Maoists and their benefactors. They are competing for allegiance of the same rural population as the State. The State has yielded much ground because the Prime Minister has not led his government with the authority mandated by the Indian Constitution. A German publication, Manager Magazine, in an article observed: “Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has a natural inclination to be a follower, not a leader.”
(RSN Singh is a former military intelligence officer who later served in the Research & Analysis Wing. The author of two books: Asian Strategic and Military Perspective and Military Factor in Pakistan, he is also a guest blogger with Canary Trap)