The dastardly attack on a Congress convoy by Maoists in Chhattisgarh must be condemned in the strongest possible terms. Around 100 Maoists first set off a powerful explosion to stop the convoy and then proceeded to gun down unarmed people who had stepped out of their cars to surrender. This speaks volumes about the ruthlessness of the Maoists. A number of Congressmen died in the action. When going to press, among those critically injured was also former central minister Vidya Charan Shukla. The bodies of kidnapped state Congress president Nand Kumar Patel and his son were found, along with the bodies of eight others, in the Jiram valley in Bastar on Sunday. Doubts about the Maoists being engaged in anything short of a civil war should now be laid to rest. This is no longer just a battle between the Maoists and the police and paramilitary forces. It is an all out war against the Republic of India. By attacking the political class in this manner the Maoists have made it clear that they will give no quarter and that the war will not stop until they are decimated.
However, the elimination of the Maoists has to be conducted in a sharp and focused manner. Great care needs to be taken that innocent civilians, largely poor tribals, are not harmed. Attention needs to be paid towards their welfare and that of their children. This would also ensure that the security forces get faster and more credible information from the ground. It is shocking that the security forces accompanying the convoy were quite obviously clueless about the presence of 100 Maoists in the area. The encounter brings into focus the fact that the Maoists are fighting as a united force while there is little or no coordination between the various state forces. Any attempt by the Centre to establish a proper central investigation and coordination agency is met with howls of protest from various state governments on the grounds that this infringes upon their jurisdiction. By now it should be clear that the Maoists are not battling to capture Chhattisgarh or Orissa or Jharkhand. They are fighting to take control of India.
Congress leader Mahendra Karma was among those killed in the encounter. Fiercely opposed to the Maoists, he was the founder of the controversial Salwa Judum in which locals armed by the state took on the Maoists. It was disbanded by an order of the Supreme Court that pronounced the local militia illegal and unconstitutional. It is clear that undemocratic methods cannot and should not be used in this battle. It is for the Maoists to use any and every means to further their cause. The Indian State cannot be-have the same way since they are fighting to defend liberty, equality and democracy. In short, they are defending the IDEA of India.