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National Interest: The bleeding heartless

On Maoists, UPA’s headless chickens are coming home to roost

How do we justify using a Bushism as the UPA finally displays some clarity of vision in dealing with violent Maoists? And a Bushism like, you are either with us, or against us.

Because, so far, for all of these nine ridiculous years, the UPA has not been able to decide whether it is with itself, or against itself, on this insurgency in India’s east-central heartlands. Every few months, usually at some high-level security conference, the prime minister describes it as the greatest threat to India. Then a Chidambaram takes the cue and builds a more robust response to the armed insurrection. And both are cut down by a Digvijaya Singh coming up with his own “root causes” theory. Operation Green Hunt may still be a mythical codename, but the home ministry does launch an audacious campaign to move into the so-called “liberated zones” (frankly, the most brutal obscenity that this nation has been gifted in this decade of waffling). The forces make some progress, and also suffer some reverses — the 76 killed in Dantewada is by far the highest single-day loss for India’s security forces in counter-insurgency after the first night of Operation Bluestar (149). The third highest of a day has also been in this confused war (38, when a police boat was attacked on June 29, 2008 in Orissa). You need to put these figures in perspective. India’s armed forces rarely suffer such high single-battle or single-operation casualties in counter-insurgency. They did not lose these many lives in a single day of fighting even in Kargil, even on the nights Tololing and Tiger Hill were assaulted. And how has the UPA responded? It has kept mum as its embedded “liberals” have popped up routinely with conspiracy theories and “root causes”. And equally so when successive chiefs of the army and the IAF have made unsolicited statements that their forces can’t be used in fighting the Naxals (if I may add with some trepidation because I know what militaristic fury this could unleash), with poorly concealed delight that the paramilitary forces were getting their “comeuppance”. No chief has been questioned, countered or counselled to also stay out of the debate as much as they want to stay away from action.

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