After Dantewada – lessons and expertise from Sri Lanka ?

Sri Lanka was often reported as the only country where the government used its air power to strike its own citizens. But SL defence sources always stood their ground saying they only targeted identified LTTE targets and not civilians centres. Air raids had a telling blow on the LTTE that was ruthlessly defeated, after a 30 year long war.

A fortnight ago in Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada district, the civil defence forces came under fierce attacks by Maoist rebels killing more than 75 armed police men deployed for anti Maoist operations. The damage was deafening with the Delhi planned operation “Green Hunt” questioned on its tactical effectiveness.

The Delhi government was visibly shocked and its Home Minister P. Chidambaram was compelled to tender his resignation taking responsibility for the devastation, though the PM turned it down and the BJP first said they don’t hold the minister at fault.

What now ? The special commission appointed to look into this catastrophe will hand over the report before end April. Meanwhile there is now talk of using air attacks against Maoist rebels. Some say, the government has decided not to, as yet. The Air Force Commander said this is not his job and turned down any possibility of using Indian air power against the Maoists. That could be for now. The use of Central Para Military Forces (CPMF) is now being discussed, equipped with “unmanned aerial vehicles” (UAV) in Maoist affected areas.

Security experts are brainstorming in Delhi on the next move against the Maoists in the “red corridor”. Social activists and human rights campaigners are finding it difficult to justify Maoist attacks as just “retaliatory”. Yet they have to stand by the people and talk against excesses by the State. Its the people who are being terrorised by both contenders, for power over people.

These Maoist attacks and their brutality has given space for more and louder calls for more ruthless military interventions. More legal and operational muscle are called for, to suppress “terrorism” in the name of national security.

A clear indication of suppressing democracy. Sri Lanka is there to learn from. They now have battle experience and expertise too. They’ve shown how armed rebellion can be wiped out though ruthlessly, leaving whole districts wholly uprooted, in the name of national security and territorial integrity.

India too have “patriotic extremists” now talking of the same topics in the same patriotic jargon and about Pakistani infiltrations. Will the next democracy in South Asia learn the savage art of counter terrorism from Sri Lanka, the only other “democracy” in this region, as old as India ? Will it be, a wait and see ?

KP

15 April, 2010

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