The state must assert its presence in Naxal areas, and it is time for political forces to come together on the issue
The ambush on a Congress party convoy in Sukma, Bastar, which killed 27 people including senior political leaders like Mahendra Karma and Nand Kumar Patel and injured many more, was one of the most daring and vicious attacks executed by Naxals in the state. This comes at a time when they were investing greater energies in reaching out to tribals, mindful of the upcoming assembly election. Mahendra Karma had started Salwa Judum, an anti-Maoist militia that the Supreme Court later ordered the state to disband. While this attack may have been an act of revenge, Maoists also have a larger contempt for lives, especially those that represent the state.
They seem to have now shifted strategy, from mainly attacking security personnel to now going after those who promise a more responsive administration, or try and engage directly with the tribals. This includes administrators and political leaders (Jhina Hikaka earlier in Orissa, collectors Vineel Krishna and Alex Paul Menon). This should dispel any romantic illusions about the Naxal cause. The fight is not for the greater welfare of the tribals on whose behalf they claim to be staging this revolutionary intervention, but for the destruction of the democratic state. Those who have won elections and seek to amplify the people's voice, those who seek to establish schools and health centres, undermine the Maoist narrative, and have been brutally repulsed by them. There remains no shred of reasonable justification for Naxal actions.
The only way is for the state is to emphatically establish its presence in the dense wilds of Bastar and Dantewada, which have been virtually left to the Maoists. Even last year's resolve to push into the area soon disintegrated, with security forces contenting themselves with the status quo. The government must make sure its writ operates in these areas, it must bring the solid protection of the state as well as development. There is no way to do this but to concentrate and scale up its anti-Naxal operations. Coordinating counter-insurgency efforts is crucial — it speaks volumes that an attack of this scale could not have been thwarted, and even that it took hours for help
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