The deaths of 22 security personnel in Chhattisgarh’s Bijapur after they were attacked by Maoists of the so-called People’s Liberation Guerilla Army, once again, underlines the failure of the Union and State Governments to formulate a comprehensive strategy against this type of terrorism. It begins at the ideological level, where there is confusion about the kind of threat the Maoists and Naxalites pose. There is a section of the intelligentsia that has for long romanticised the ‘struggle’ through books, movies, political treatises and academic narratives. Many left of centre parties are heavily influenced by this and, therefore, lack the will to confront them, ideologically or in the field. When such parties come to power, they allow space and time to these armed groups to consolidate and expand their power. As a result, the terrorist groups continue to control larger tracts of land. The more cynical among the politicians do not even hesitate to make political deals with them to win elections. This is exactly what has happened in Chhattisgarh. Owing to the present state government’s ambivalence towards the threat, ugly incidents of the kind that has taken place in Bijapur continue to occur.
The lack of a long term approach has also meant that the fundamental advantages India has are not utilised. Otherwise, technology and equipment have become so far advanced that small groups of two or three hundred persons would not be able to mobilise and attack with impunity. Is it so difficult for the legions of scientists, engineers, AI and IT experts to devise ways to assist the fighters in the field? The commanders, too, should have better quality training and be innovative in their tactics. Those at higher levels of command should plan to go after the terrorists in a proactive way, rather than establish patterns of behaviour that become easily predictable to the enemy.
And, of course, there is the battle for the mind. The system, particularly the judiciary, should have the ability to discern between legitimate political dissent and the exploitation of democratic freedoms to destroy democracy. The sight of celebrity lawyers making desperate efforts to protect the psychopathic leaders and activists of these destructive ideologies through interventions in the courts, while totally ignoring the plight of millions of law-abiding citizens that actually need assistance, is a sign of a greater game afoot. Such persons are unable to recognise, despite their supposed erudition, that they are being manipulated through funds and awards sourced from abroad to support anti-national activities. They only need to look at all the places in the world where order has entirely collapsed and chaos reigns. Indian democracy cannot be taken for granted – it needs the resolute support of its people to survive.