The eight year old old boy could barely speak. Sobbing he told his school principal that his father inspector Francis Induwar had been killed. ``Please send my elder brother Aniket home,'' Animesh wept. Inspector Induwar's family had been maintaining a brave face since the day of his abduction.
The day newspapers in Ranchi carried a report saying the Maoists want to swap Induwar with the three arrested top brass - Kobad Gandhy, Chandra Bhushan Yadav and Chatradhar Mahato, Induwar's wife bravely came on television and said she was opposed to the swap. ``It is with great difficulty that the police have arrested the top Maoist leaders. My husband is a police officer. He must not be exchanged for them,'' she said bravely.
But the million dollar question here - why must the common man be brave all the time. It is now time for the government to deal with the menace with an iron hand. No excuses. No soft peddling and no vote bank politics. The prime minister, Dr Manmohan Singh has said, for five years now, that the Maoists are the biggest threat India faces. Then it is now time to eliminate that threat.
The brutal beheading of Inspector Induwar has shown that the Naxals are no different from the Taliban. It is now time to declare war on India's Red Taliban. And the war not remain confined to government files alone. Give the security forces an aim; give them a time frame, lay down the ground rules for the security forces and then let them achieve that aim - without fear or favour.
Because if not now then when!
WHY ARE RIGHTS ACTIVISTS SILENT
The security forces are shocked and appalled the human rights activists and the `jhola wallahs' who scream murder from roof tops when dreaded terrorists are eliminated are silent when the Red Taliban has murdered a police officer so brutally. The pictures are shocking to say the least. Induwar's body was left on the roadside between the Ranchi-Jamshedpur highway. His severd head lay a few feet away. There were hand painted posters which said that death penalty had been given to Induwar. Was he not a human being? Did he not have rights? Why are the rights activists silent tonight.
``Do rights activists only have an agenda? Are they paid by Pakistan or China or other hostile elements so that they come out on the streets and protest when the security forces carry out their operations. Does that mean their breast beating is a sham...A tamassha, Are they paid actors,'' a top ranking police officer asks ?
SECURITY OR DEVELOPMENT FIRST ?
One cannot happen without the other. But what should India focus on first? Some say it depends on what side of the fence you are on. There is no doubt successive governments failed the people in the affected areas. There is also no doubt that the fruits of development have not percolated down to all. There are lakhs and lakhs who barely get two square meals a day.
But will picking up the gun and killing innocent Indians fill their stomach? The Maoists, according to the government, are destroying infrastructure - railway lines, schools, medical care centres and roads. So do they want development or are they trying to ensure that development does not come their way so that they can continue with their state within a state.
My understanding is development and security go hand in hand. One cannot survive without the other. But first an environment has to be created which is condusive to development. and that will not happen if 20,000 people pick up the gun and call for a revolution.
DOES THE GOVERNMENT HAVE A STRATEGY
One of the key result areas for India's new Iron man P. Chidambaram (not a single major terror strike post 26/11) is to neutralise the Red Taliban. Using the army is not the solution. The army is neither trained nor geared to fight ``own people.'' This will have to be entirely a police and at a best para military operation. of course the help of Indian Air Force would be needed not only to scan the area from the skies - using unmanned aerial vehicles and helicopters - but also to transport men and material for surgical strikes.
The militant military wing of the Red Taliban need to be neutralised. The poitical wing can be engaged if they give up violence. ``Once the Maharashtra elections are over, work will begin in the right earnest. We are putting men and material in place. This will have to be a concerted inter-state effort. We have to ensure that Maoists do not escape from one state to another when the operations begin,'' sources say.
IRON HAND IN A VELVET GLOVE
This is the strategy that the government hopes to adopt. But the success will depend on the cooperation of the states and the training of the police forces. This is the strategy that the army follows in Jammu and Kashmir and in the north east. It is trying to reach out to the people in the right earnest - help them rebuild their lives. But terrorists are killed - those supporting terrorists are sent to jail.
The army has carried out some very transparent operations in counter insurgency situations. Mistakes have been made but those found guilty - punished. The police will have to ensure that. There needs to be a zero tolerance policy on rape, molestation and murder. Rules have to be put in place and strictly complied with.
MAINTENANCE OF AIM
One of the principles of war is setting an aim and then maintenance of aim. You cannot keep shifting the goal post. Mid course correction is fine but once the aim has been set - maintenance of aim is very important. Only then can the security forces be expected to achieve the target.
This has to be a national effort. Kobad Gandhy, Chantradhar Mahato and Chandra Bhushan Yadav - if guilty of waging war against the country deserve the harshest possible sentence under the Indian Penal system. If there are other elements who are waging war against India - eliminate them - neutralise them.
Because if not now then when.....