Operation Green Hunt: its stated and unstated targets

Kumar Sanjay Singh

Every conscious citizen is aware that the proposed operation Green Hunt, ostensibly to deal with the Maoist armed struggle, is an event with ominous portents. It can be argued that the events that are unfolding have consequences that go much beyond the attempted military solution to problems that are essentially political and economic in nature.

That the intended target of the government is much larger than the stated target is becoming obvious in the statements and actions of the state. Witness how in the aftermath of the Silda action the Home Minister Mr. P C Chidambaram tried to steam roll all the critiques of the government into Maoist sympathisers, completely ignoring the fact that criticising the human rights violation of the government is not tantamount to a support of the Maoists. More recently, the charge sheet on Mr. Kobad Ghandy, filed by the Delhi Police, mentioned some prominent democratic and civil liberties organisations and activists as fronts of the Communist Party of India (Maoist). Obviously, the intended targets of the state are not simply the Maoist party but all such organisations and individual that have been critical of the state’s developmental policy and track record on human rights. A fact testified by the assault of rights activists and Gandhian organisations in Chhattisgarh.

The manner in which the central government wants to deploy paramilitary forces in the so-called sensitive states betrays the state’s unstated agenda in three respects. First, the attempt to cajole and pressurise the reluctant chief ministers of Bihar and Jharkhand through media propaganda and other kinds of pressure and persuasion is a testimony of the attempt to redefine centre-state relationship in the favour of the centre; even on the issue of law and order which is a state subject.

Second, deployment of armed paramilitary forces through a central fiat amounts to imposition of armed paramilitary forces over civilian administration. This is permissible only under emergency. Yet the government is not declaring emergency since such a declaration obliges the government for a mandatory review of the declaration every six months. The government has therefore imposed a de facto emergency without actually declaring it. Thus it has claimed unfettered power without any legal or time bound restraint, in other words it has claimed impunity in the area of operation Green Hunt. Experience of use of armed and paramilitary forces provided with impunity, for instance in the north eastern states and J& K has been that the number of civilian casualty and the erosion of human rights is unacceptably high. In other words the casualty, repression and oppression of the civilian population living in the areas of operation green hunt will be dramatically higher than the stated targets of operation green hunt. In fact, the plight of the civilian population is further compounded since they have been also targeted in some instance by the guerrilla forces.

Third, the initiation of the inter-state counter naxal operation is actually a part of the oft stated plan of the centre to restructure and centralise internal security apparatus. Thus, this is a decisive shift of law and order and policing from the state subject. Over the period of last more than two decades several issues of state subject have been taken over by the centre, for instance forest, roads, port management and now policing. These are portents of a shift towards a more unitary form of governments. Could this also be seen as imposition of a Presidential form of government by stealth? It ought to be pointed out here that this idea had been mooted by Indira Gandhi and Atal Bihari Vajpayee during their respective tenures as Prime Minister.

To cut a long story short the current operation while stated to be against the Communist Party of India (Maoist) has a much larger unstated target. It threatens to trespass the safety and security of the indigenous and tribal people in the operation area, it seeks to trespass on the fundamental rights of the citizens of the country and finally, it seeks to redefine the structure of governance of the country. It is evident, therefore, the current offensive is quite comprehensive and seeks to impact upon a cross section of political process and the life and rights of common citizens. It stands to reason that such a challenge requires a resistance that is imaginative and flexible enough to include the opinions of all the stake holders that are to be impacted.

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