It’s been 7 days since the tragic Dantewada Massacre took place where 76 Para military personnel of the 62nd Battalion of the CRPF laid down their lives fighting the Maoists. Days after this incident, the blame game is still on, but, the ground realities remain the same. The lives of 76 CRPF Jawans were lost in the most brutal trap ever laid by the CPI (Maoists) in Chattisgarh on the morning of April 6th. Reportedly, the patrol party, tired after 4 days of continuous operations, ran into an ambush laid by a force of Maoists believed to be between 200-300 & 1000. The Union Home Ministry is largely held responsible for this massacre for it was obvious that the security forces were not adequately trained, appropriately led or properly commanded.
Before we go any further, we have to acquaint ourselves with certain facts which went largely unnoticed. A few of them are pointed below for information;
• The Central Paramilitary forces (like the CRPF & the BSF) are raised on par with the Indian Armed Forces and are deployed for various activities-from riot control to counter insurgency operations to providing security to vital Govt installations to tackle anti state operations.
• Now, picture this, the number of Jawans leaving the paramilitary forces is rising at an alarming rate. In 2007, 1381 personnel opted out of the forces while the number went up to 3855 in 2009. Many cite inadequate facilities and incentives as the main reason.
The reason behind this growing unrest among the forces is that additional duties in the most unfriendly terrains like tackling insurgency and internal security is being entrusted on these forces which are already burdened with regular duties like manning key Govt installations, VVIP security and riot control. However, general amenities like Wage revision, employee benefits (both monetary and material) remain more or less unchanged
• Due to the surge in insurgency activities against the state in recent time, specific groups like Greyhounds, the Cobras etc have been raised by various state governments to carry out counter insurgency operations and are paid on par with the armed forces though the work done by these central paramilitary forces too is no different
• A visit to “Ground Zero” (As Dantewada is called where the massacre took place) reveals shocking realities. The makeshift camps are devoid of any basic amenities and a pig sty would look much better than them. The security forces are forced to utilize Govt school buildings which double up as bunkers and thus become soft targets for the Maoists. The power is supplied for hardly 3 hours as the transmission lines blown up by the Maoists are yet to be restored. Generators are the only respite here.
• There is no proper transport in these areas. One has to travel atleast 40km to be able to get into any mode of transport (which is usually the state run service). However, of late, these buses are increasingly becoming targets for the Maoists as they are stopped and the Jawans are pulled out of them only to be killed.
• With no proper facilities for water and sanitation, security forces are compelled to defecate in the open thus becoming soft targets. Even the water sources are mined thus making it difficult for them to atleast gain access to drinking water.
Under such harsh conditions, the Security forces have still not lost hope and are raring to go into the battle field to face the Maoists. The buck has been passing thru several people & desks now and is still being passed among the high and powerful. The question however remains….. How many such incidents will it take to make governments sensitive and act and not just keep passing the buck?
Unless the basic requirements of the forces are not addressed on priority, such incidents might only become more frequent and might lead to a break in the moral courage of the forces fighting in the terrain for which the state would be largely responsible.
Lastly, lets all salute the brave Men in Uniform who have laid down their lives for the nation….Lest We Forget
With valuable inputs & courtesy from
• K. Subramanyam (strategic affairs analyst, from an article published in the Times)
• The Times Group
• Special feature on the massacre from the New Delhi Television Network (NDTV)
• Ushodaya Publications
———————- Go Green