“Violence begets violence and having dialogue is the only way out”
By Prakhar Jain
The Maoists have always claimed that they are not anti teachers, doctors or government servants who strive for welfare. Does the abduction of Odisha MLA Jhina Hikaka and Alex Menon indicate that the targets of the Maoists have changed from security forces to functionaries who are pro-development as well?
No, their target is the State and the State in turn targets Maoists. It has nothing to do with the individuals. Vineel Krishna was abducted in Malkangiri for the same reason and so is the case with the Sukma Collector. Development didn’t happen in these areas in 60 years even after separate provisions being made for the Schedule V regions. So, when these people go as the ambassadors of the State, the anger of these people shows up. We forget about the 1700 innocent adivasis who are imprisoned in Jagadalpur jail. Media doesn’t talk about that. Instead, if a Collector is abducted, then great hue and cry is raised. What about Himanshu Kumar, who was carrying out development in the forests of Dantewada over almost two decades? Why was his house burnt?
Does the Maoists' demand asking for the release of eight of their cadres rather than only innocent tribals, unjustly imprisoned by the Indian state, smack of politics?
I don’t believe that. Their main demands are that the Operation Green Hunt should be stopped and we, along with people of India, support that because a solution cannot be arrived at by the violence being carried out by the State and the Maoists. The root causes are socio-economic in nature and are associated with water, land, forests and natural and mineral resources. The issue is of the ownership (of these resources) guaranteed by the Schedule V and the PESA Act of 1996 passed by the Parliament, which is not being implemented.
Many would argue, why target officials who are trying to implement welfare schemes, when that is what Maoists say they want?
Had they implemented the Acts, I’ve mentioned, in past 60 years, there wouldn’t have been any resentment among people. Those who want to implement it now might also have some agenda behind it which we never can know. The State wants them to set them right by the use of arms and they, in turn, want to harm them through their weapons and through abduction which is (a form of) violence. Violence begets violence and having dialogue is the only way out. We tried for peace through the letter which P Chidambaram gave on 11 May, 2010. We got an excellent response to that through the CPI (Maoist) spokesperson Azad. But he was killed within a month.
You have been a peace negotiator before. What lessons did you learn? You also offered to negotiate now, but neither the government nor the Maoists agreed. What might be the reasons for that?
Maoists want me to work for them and they respect me. In their press statement they’ve said that we want Swamiji, but we are worried about the ill treatment meted out to him by the Chhattisgarh government. That is why they don’t want me to come into scene. I am happy with the names of BD Sharma and Prof. Hargopal, who are good friends of ours.
Prakhar Jain is a Correspondent with Tehelka.