India’s latest attempt to tackle the Naxalite menace demonstrates lack of central leadership
In the last few years, various groups of Left-wing terrorists across India and Nepal have demonstrated an unprecedented tendency towards coordination, cooperation and collaboration. And in the past year, various groups and factions of Naxalites and Maoists have consolidated under a single umbrella — that of the Communist Party of India (Maoist). And in the same one year, Dr Manmohan Singh’s central government has shown little urgency in fashioning any sort of a coordinated response. And the latest pow-wow of several Maoist-affected state chief ministers hosted by Shivraj Patil, the Union Home Minister, failed to throw up concrete plans to tackle the Maoist menace.
It was decided that each state will form a separate task-force with every other state that it shares a border with. That means that a state like Jharkhand, characterised by poor governance, inadequate law and order resources and high levels of Naxalite activity will have to form as many as five separate task-forces, one with each its neighbouring states. What’s more, the formation of joint task forces is non-binding, and poor Jharkhand cannot do much if one of its neighbours decides against constituting one.
The missing element in the entire arrangement is the role of the centre — the consolidated challenge posed by the Maoists demands a consolidated response. Shivraj Patil’s home ministry has been characterised by complacence, ineptitude and dangerous irresponsibility as far as the Naxalite menace is concerned. His latest announcement is doubly dangerous — not only does it fail to throw up a meaningful challenge to the spread of Maoist terror, it creates an illusion that the central and state governments are working together. They are not. They are just busy forming committees, task forces and ‘distributing’ development funds.