14877 - COMMENTARY vol xlv no 25 EPW Economic& Political...

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Unformatted text preview: COMMENTARY june 19, 2010 vol xlv no 25 EPW Economic & Political Weekly 12 The Pathology of India’s Security Forces Sumanta Banerjee Will liberal humanists care to look at the track record of India’s paramilitary forces and their brutalisation by the State which has turned them into robots conditioned to press the trigger at anyone dissenting against the State’s policies? These guns make no distinction between the Gandhians and the Maoists, between the peaceful anti-steel plant agitation in Kalinganagar and the armed resistance of forest dwellers in Chhattisgarh, between non-violent and violent movements. If the ruling powers continue to ignore popular grievances and shrink the space for democratic protest through peaceful avenues, the democratic urge will then take the form of violent resistance against the paramilitary forces which have been deployed against them. …Whose conscience with injustice is corrupted (Shakespeare: Henry VI, Pt 2 ). T wo recent incidents have suddenly spurred the conscience of sections of Indian civil society – as well as brought into focus the state of our para- military forces and the plight that they face. First, the killing of 75 Central Re- serve Police Force ( CRPF ) personnel by Maoist guerrillas in Dantewada on 6 April, and second, the news of the Canadian High Commission’s refusal to grant a per- manent residential visa to a retired officer of the Border Security Force ( BSF ), which was reported in the newspapers in May. The Dantewada incident, in particular, provoked outpourings from the main- stream media, certain civil society groups and intellectuals. The reactions ranged from hysterical demonisation of the M aoists (typically represented by the d rivel delivered every day by the bluster- ing anchors of TV channels) to measured expressions of condolence by human rights and intellectual groups, some criti- cising the Maoists for targeting poor j awans, and thus accusing them of being indifferent to the compulsions of the poor- er classes – from among whom many of the CRPF j awans were possibly recruited. As if to live up to such criticism, fast on the heels of the 6 April killing, the Maoists blasted a bus in Dantewada on 17 May, which killed 15 poor tribal passengers. In what has become a ritual of sorts, soon a fter this incident, the Maoist spokesperson Ramanna came out with the usual apology, “deeply regretting the loss of civilian lives”, but claiming at the same time that his party had gained a trophy by killing 15 Koya commandos/Special Police Officers [SPOs] (recruited from among the local tribals) who were also travelling by the same bus – whom he accused of raping and killing villagers in the surrounding area ( The Hindu , 19 May 2010). The Maoist excuse for the destruction of innocent lives sounds chillingly close to the frequent press announcements made by the US security forces in Afghanistan every time they kill common citizens in their drone attacks, when they apologise and describe them as “collateral damage”...
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14877 - COMMENTARY vol xlv no 25 EPW Economic& Political...

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