Chidambaram was definitely not lethargic when he proclaimed India’s ‘War on Terror’ sometime late last year. He meant business as only during winter it was feasible to re-locate the paramilitary forces from Kashmir to Dandakaranya and Lalgarh. The cross-border jihadists would have taken some time off while the lowly-paid forces would have continued their Sisyphean job, though elsewhere.
We may castigate our democratic set-up to whatsoever an extent, but still would be forced to acknowledge the role ‘Civil Society’ has come to play in the twenty-first century in our country. By all probability, the Home Ministry’s ‘mellowed down approach’ against the leftist ultras was due to the vehement criticism of the media and academia.
Meanwhile, Chidambaram offered ‘peace talks’ to the rebels as per the ‘old Andhra Model’ and simultaneously continued the ‘combing operations’ against Kishenji et al. Hence his ‘quiet diplomacy’ and ‘gunboat diplomacy’ ran parallel to each other.
Once again, the Home Minister seems ready for a dalliance with the Maoists. On 09 February, in the Chief Ministers’ Meeting of four states having contiguous borders; he sounded very optimistic and unequivocal regarding the so-called ‘Operation Green Hunt’. He has roped in West Bengal, Orissa, Jharkhand and Bihar; in decreasing order of their enthusiasm.
Undoubtedly, Buddhadeb’s party is at the crossroads, and thus needs to deliver. The deliverance can be either in terms of ‘reservation for the Muslims’ or ‘annihilation of the Red Ultras’. To make matters worse, Assembly elections in the state are nearing.
Naveen Patnaik appears eager to cash in on the opportunity that the Union has promised to provide : forty-two battalions of the CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force) for curbing the insurgency.
On the other hand, though Soren might have evaded media glare and direct arm twisting with the Naxals by invoking anatomical distractions; Nitish Kumar surely created kerfuffle in the Home Ministerial circuits by denouncing the ‘use of force’ and that too in absentia.
Tactically speaking, ‘Green Hunt’ needs to be expedited as the impending monsoon would be a hurdle in the hilly tracts and forest areas of Jangalmahal. Moreover, Chidambaram may take solace from the fact that about thirty thousand Indian troops have been removed from Kashmir. Thus he can afford a tussle with the Red Talibans at this juncture.
Further, he takes a cue from the Americans in the usage of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles. Who knows that even drones might be in the offing in Ghatshila and Dalma Hills in the near future if Ganapathy and company do not oblige.
In this political predicament, the pertinent question is whether the Union Home Ministry would really go ahead with its stated objectives? Or whether its operation shall remain a mere rhetoric? Will the authorities be dwarfed because of a vocal ‘civil society’?
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has cited his ‘successful’ policy of ‘surrender and rehabilitation’ of the Naxals. After all, the disgruntled elements are our own citizens!
But Chidambaram has framed his own ‘praxis’ and the coming few months may prove to be periods of commotion in the country. Nevertheless, the climax may be shifted to a later date if the Maoists hibernate in Dandakaranya and Nallamala. As divulged by senior bureaucrats and cops, the acclaimed operation would not be an ‘all-out offensive’. Thus it would be a ‘spread-out’ event, both in terms of space and time.
To what limit the lush green Indian forests have red pigmentation, depends on which part of the strategic spectrum our political masters place their crosshairs.