India Uncut

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Friday, February 11, 2005

Fight the Maoists, not the king

Swapan Dasgupta writes in the Telegraph:
King Gyanendra’s faith in his own ability to rescue Nepal from the barbarians at the door may well be misplaced but the south Asian experience suggest that non-ethnic insurgencies are rarely settled by following democratic niceties — the so-called “socio-economic” approach so favoured by the conflict resolution industry. The Naxalites in West Bengal, the Khalistanis in Punjab and the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna in Sri Lanka were defeated by meticulous military operations that violated every clause of the human rights charter. India can hardly pretend that its own localized counter-insurgency strategies don’t tally with the course King Gyanendra is contemplating ...

... India must recognize that the greatest danger to national security stems from a Maoist victory in Kathmandu. Such a turn of events will make the whole of eastern and central India vulnerable to insurgency — a prospect that is deliciously anticipated by a section of the Pakistani and Bangladeshi military establishments.

There is no alternative but for India to make the defeat of the Maoist insurgency in Nepal its immediate and unwavering goal.

It does not seem, however, that the Indian government is too concerned about the Maoists of Nepal, or the threat that they are to us. As I'd pointed out earlier, our government is going too soft on Maoist terrorists within our own country. And the ones from Nepal have recently started crossing over to join their comrades here. What the Indian Express had recently worried about (and which I'd cited here) is coming closer and closer to becoming a reality: "a Naxal corridor from Nepal to Nellore."

So am I advocating that we, and the Nepalese government, should violate "every clause of the human rights charter" to fight these Maoists, as Dasgupta suggests? Not at all. I see Maoist terrorism, both in India and Nepal, as a law-and-order problem, and one does not negotiate with criminals, but comes down hard on them. Putting a robber and a murderer in jail, or shooting a killer who has made waging war against civil society his main aim in life, is not a violation of human rights, but a defence of them. Gyanendra's suspension of democracy is an unwarranted and extreme move, but I would nevertheless contend that a threat to humanity, as Maoists have always been, is a greater danger than a threat to democracy. The right to vote can be restored; lives lost cannot.
amit varma, 4:01 PM| write to me | permalink | homepage

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