Saturday, April 10, 2010

Dantewada, Naxal Attack and "Restoring Administration"

The attack by the Maoists/Naxals on the CRPF in Dantewada, Chhatisgarh on April 6th has caused much high-decibel outrage, anger and pathos across the media, political establishment and urban discourse... "surgical strikes", "coordinated multi-pronged approach", "fitting reply", "SriLankan Solution to LTTE" etc., seem to be flavour of the day...

One of the stated objectives of the "Operation Green Hunt" is that it will "clear, hold and build", i.e., clear the ultras, hold the place till governance and development can be brought in - and thus bring the local tribals into the fold.
(Note: "Operation Green Hunt" is a term which the government says is a media-creation - and perhaps it is - though large-scale deployment of CRPF and para-military forces has been done. Those who have been deployed find this denial that the operation exist, by the government strange, and even demoralising - check: Chidambaram says no, but troops believe ‘Green Hunt' exists, The Hindu, April 10).

Noble and logical as this aim to "Clear, hold and build" may seem from a distance, its success clearly depends on the capabilities of the forces to achieve the first step, i.e., "clear" in the first place.

Before "restoring the administration" of the cleared area, there is also the issue of the 'governance'/'administration'/'capacity' of the deployed forces - a point which is mostly ignored in the jingoism about the might of Indian forces... so here are some reportage, which I could pick up - which are less visible/ less discussed - and so may complement the picture...

  • Slain CRPF jawans never trained to fight Naxals (One India)
    "Army chief General V K Singh said on Thursday, Apr 8, that the 76 CRPF personnels who were killed by Maoists were never trained in jungle warfare to fight the Maoists... Responding to the query on the Dantewada massacre, Army Chief said that what had happened in Dantewada was the result of internal deficiencies."
    Read on...
    (Note: this has been denied by the Ministry of Home Affairs - so one is left with the choice whether to believe the words of the 'training agency', which is Army, or those who send the forces for training.)

  • On Naxal trail, they haven't fired in a year (The Times of India)
    "It's war. And every officer and constable of Jharkhand police deployed in Maoist-hit areas is well prepared for it. Right? Wrong. In the last three years, most of them have not fired a weapon at a paper target — far less a Maoist bent on killing them.

    Brandishing AK-47s and Insas rifles, they are good at inspiring awe among children and villagers, but how are they in combat? "In a crunch situation, I don't know how my men will react or even if they fire, whether they will make the bullets count," admitted an inspector."

    Read on...

  • No medical evacuation plan for paramilitary forces (The Hindu)
    "Around the world, medical experts are agreed on the concept of the “golden hour” of evacuation in which the maximum lives can be saved. “All trauma patients, particularly in warzone situations, must be evacuated to a tertiary medical centre within 60 minutes if they are to survive,” said retired Admiral S.K. Mohanty, who served as a surgeon in Kashmir during the Kargil War...

    ...“In Chhattisgarh, we are lucky if we get information about an attack within the golden hour, let alone evacuating people in 60 minutes,” said a senior police officer. “The lines of communication are poor and the telephones don't work.”

    Read on...

  • No water, food or medicines. Now, go fight 'biggest threat'(The Times of India)
    "For six years, the government has cried hoarse about Maoists being the single biggest security threat to India. Yet, the Indian state is sending its footsoldiers into battle on an empty stomach, without adequate drinking water and medical facilities.... "We are losing lives in a battle that can be sorted out. There are many ways in which our force can be better utilized," said the jawan."
    Read on...

  • Anger spills over in CRPF camp (The Times of India)
    "People are issuing statements, expressing grief over the incident, but how many have tried to see the condition we work in," yelled a jawan from inside the camp. "Media are flashing fabricated reports about senior officers making visits or camping at our site. No one has actually turned up," he added.

    He said politicians were finding faults with them. "They say it was a mistake. How can they pass such a judgment sitting in Delhi?" asked another jawan. Another jawan joined in to take a dig at the politicians.

    Read on...

    The Solution??... There must be many serious changes which must be being contemplated, but when one comes across examples such as this one, one wonders...

  • Now, motivational classes to boost jawans (The Times of India)
    "The Dantewada massacre of CRPF personnel at the hands of the Maoists has given the paramilitary forces in this state the opportunity to go for motivational classes and interpersonal exercise to boost the morale of the jawans... Senior CRPF officials said they would soon ask the authorities concerned to hold motivational classes to pump the morale of the jawans engaged in the anti-Maoist operation in the border districts of the state connecting West Bengal, Orissa and Chhattisgarh.... Measures, including yoga, motivational classes, inter-personal meeting and sports comprises the broad exercise that goes into the building of a high morale of the jawans during their normal stay in the base camps."
    Read on...

    Commenting on and analysing this lack of capabilities and preparedness, in a rather incisive article "India's Maoists and Dreamscapes of 'Solutions'", Security Analyst, Dr Ajai Sahni had pointed out last month:

    "...under the Centre's projected operational plans, that is, 28,000 or 42,800 CPMF personnel, as the case may be, for six worst-affected States with a total area of 1.86 million square kilometers and a total population of over 446 million. This is like trying to irrigate the desert with dewdrops.

    Of course, the Centre's 'operational strategy' seeks to concentrate this Force in areas of specific Maoist dominance, to 'recover' these areas, and 'bring them under civil administration'.

    ....What is fascinating in these narratives is their exquisite simplicity and their utter divorce from reality. It would, indeed, be quite miraculous if the state could even 'restore civil administration' to vast expanses of rural India where the Maoists have no presence whatsoever, but where virtually the entire apparatus of governance has vanished. At least some of these areas are little more than a stone's throw from Delhi.

    The problem with these various 'strategies' is that they aren't 'strategies' at all. These are borrowed ideas with no reference to capacities, capabilities, resources and the conditions of the ground."


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