Sunday, April 11, 2010

Where does the buck stop for poverty in Naxal-infested areas?

Dhananjay Mahapatra, Apr 12, 2010, 02.08am IST


Home minister P Chidambaram is serious about his job and sensitive too. For, he offered to quit owning moral responsibility for the massacre of 76 CRPF personnel by Naxalites in Dantewada. He rightly said, ‘‘It’s a war thrust on us.’’ And, if it is a war, there is bound to be temporary reverses and one should not be overawed by it to lose sight of the final goal.

After having recently told West Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee that the buck stopped with him when it came to taking action to stop political violence in the state, it was brutally honest of Chidambaram to say — ‘‘I have no hesitation saying the buck stops at my desk’’ — when it came to the Dantewada incident.

If, as home minister, Chidambaram feels that the buck stops at his desk for the mowing down of 76 personnel, then where should the buck stop for the utter neglect of areas under Naxalite sway in Maharashtra, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Bihar.

For 60 years, people living in these areas, particularly tribals, have been eagerly waiting for the winds of development to touch their lives. But when the long wait tears the fabric of patience and turns it into anger, they become willing pawns for exploitation by those armed groups who have no fear of law.

The home minister knows that since the 1970s, Naxalites have been holding kangaroo courts and handing down death penalties to police informers and those who oppose their activities. The poor are caught in the middle of the neglect by government and the ruthlessness of outlaws.

The genesis of the problem in these states, which continues to be as real as it was at the time of Independence, is that the polity has failed to secure even drinking water, roads or a hospital to every villager. Right to food, shelter and education is still beyond the dreams of many who still wage a daily battle for survival. Whose desk — that of the politicians or bureaucrats — should the buck stop for this? Both have always parroted that ‘‘these huge socio-economic problems cannot be solved overnight’’ to ensure that the buck does not stop at anyone’s desk.

Given the ground situation, the SC’s 22-year-old judgment in Maneka Gandhi case about ‘right to life’ appears, even today, to be a myth. In 1978, the SC had said, ‘‘The expression ‘life’ in Article 21 does not connote merely physical or animal existence. Right to life includes right to life with human dignity.’’

When life is so cheap in Naxalite infested areas, where is the question of the impoverished masses searching for elusive dignity? It was not so in 1972, when the Naxalite movement was in its nascent state. In Joydeb Gorai vs State of West Bengal [1972 SCC (2) 417], the Supreme Court had taken a stern view of a Naxalite sympathizer for threatening a villager and forcing him to erase the anti-Naxalite slogan he had written on the wall of his hut. It had upheld the state’s decision to take the aggressor into preventive custody for an indefinite period.

So, when the apex judiciary had mostly been supportive of the action against outlaws and almost has been acting as a catalyst for proper implementation of social welfare schemes that touched the poorest of the poor, who is responsible for the prevailing situation in the Naxalite infested areas? Would Chidambaram know which desk the buck should stop for this?

1 comment:

PreserveGoa said...

The govt operates with the view point of the capitalist,the poor are marginalised , victimised, they cannot run to courts and wait for judgements by then their land is gone in some mining deal.We cannot loose jawans fighting our own people, we need jawans to fight pakistan and china. If only govt can save lives atleast to fight the real enemy.