Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Operation Green Hunt

I had difficulty sleeping the night I read this account of Arundhati Roy's meeting with the Naxals/Maoists in the forests of Dandakaranya (Walking with the comrades, The Outlook). The Government of India has unleashed or is to unleash, as reports indicate, Operation Green Hunt to 'contain' the 'Maoist insurgency' in India's red corridor.

The report lays bare the truth behind the so called 'Maoist insurgency' in India. Roy, a writer and activist, has done what self-respecting Indian journalists should have done years ago. But probably the Maoists would not have trusted the representatives of India's corporate media, so they might not have succeeded in getting what Roy has got in her report. With every new piece, Roy is pushing the envelop further -- and I am talking about 'the piece' purely as a writer of daring. (I expected something similar from gutsy writers like Pankaj Mishra and Amitava Kumar but where are they? Prof. Kumar has written a book on terrorism but I don't hear much about Mishraji.)

Roy's piece was simply hair-raising: one the one hand, she came across as a brave writer, a woman among armed strangers, comrades, deep in the forests, talking to them, living among them, walking on for hours without food or shelter, eating chutney of red ants, sleeping under start-studded skies in jhillis. It all came across as a romantic adventure, and I felt it difficult to suppress my guilty pleasure in reading the account as a romance.

But at the same time, I was feeling ashamed and angry. Ashamed, because it was about some of my own people, people of my country, who the government wanted to crush because they came in the way of 'progress.' I felt anger because I felt powerless to stop the Operation Green Hunt, the intention of the government of India to crush the revolt of the tribals. Government should find a solution by talking to the oppressed who have taken up arms when they have no other way of defending themselves.

Here is something from the article that I wanted to copy down as a reminder. It rings so true:

By institutionalising injustice in the way that it does, the Indian State has turned this country into a tinderbox of massive unrest. The government is quite wrong if it thinks that by carrying out ‘targeted assassinations’ to render the CPI (Maoist) ‘headless’, it will end the violence. On the contrary, the violence will spread and intensify, and the government will have nobody to talk to.

Then I read some of the comments posted by readers. I liked this one a lot:

Before I make this comment let me make this clear - I love my country India as much as anyone else. This is to make sure that I am not labelled anti-India as is done to anyone who speaks on its weaknesses these days. The Indian parliamentary democracy is rotten to the core. The election process is a sham, an eyewash in the name of democracy. Yes, the people do vote - more than the Americans do - but it is like selecting the least rotten potatoes from a sackful of rotten potatoes. It serves no purpose - the looters reach the parliament and start the loot of this nation. They pass every bill except the ones the citizens want them to pass - foremost being a strict anti-corruption bill. Now, some will say it is rotten but it is the best option for us. How on earth can a rotten item be the best option? Some say it will take time to improve the system but with the same breath they say India is a mature democracy. So, if a mature democracy has an immature system, isn't something wrong somewhere? "Chalta hai" is not just a cliched expression - it is a cancer that we all are affected with, which we all falsely believe to be our symbol of nationalism. Helpless at the functioning of the system, we say "chalta hai, hamara desh phir bhi achha hai". Yes, we can ask the tribals to fight elections but do we know that fighting elections is a multicrore business transaction? A few IIT people decided enough was enough and formed a party and decided to fight the elections. As was inevitable, they lost their deposits in the election and the party is no more heard of! If educated folks can't "fight the fight" of elections do we believe that uneducated innocent tribals stand a chance? The system has effectively driven this point into the minds of the masses - especially the middle-class - that to speak against the system is to speak against the nation, which is NOT. The nation is much more important than the system. The system can be changed several times to improve the nation. If one really loves the country, one must be willing to analyse every aspect of the system.
Reader Man
Kolkata, India


Do you have any thoughts on this issue?