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A Security Threat Or a Political Challenge?


Supriya Sharma

THE NAXAL THREAT: CAUSES, STATE RESPONSES AND CONSEQUENCES
Edited by V.R. Raghavan
Centre for Security Analysis, Chennai, 2011, pp.178, Rs. 795.00

VOLUME XXXVI NUMBER 4 April 2012

The killing of Mallojula Koteshwar Rao, known as Kishenji, at the hands of counterinsurgency security forces in West Bengal's West Midnapore district may be a setback to the Maoist movement but it gives no cause to rejoice… Over and above being a threat to security, the Maoist insurgency is a political question that needs political an-swers… His killing deprives the Maoist move-ment of a leader, but not the causes that sustain it. Editorial,The Hindu, November 29 The breakthrough...in the Kishenji encounter was preceded by a visible regress in the battle against the Maoists… These columns have time and again warned…about how unaffordable it is to not read Maoist threats and violence for what these are—cuts that not only result in the need-less deaths of civilians and security personnel but also thwart and retard development, the very development essential to uplift the lives of the villagers and at the same time deprive Maoists of recruits. Editorial,The Indian Express, December1 The opinion faultline in the English press over the recent killing of a Maoist leader reflects the larger paralysis in the debate over the movement that the Prime Minister has identified as India's gravest inter-nal security threat. Is the armed movement of the Maoists a security threat for the Indian state or a political challenge? Does it call for political answers or an intensified military response? Or is the fram-ing of the debate in these polarized terms itself flawed for a movement that is as multi-dimen-sional and geographically spread out? Trained to see the world through the pri-sm of law and order, and at the receiving end of rebels, police officers are not the most likely sources for a complex categorization of an in-surgency. And yet a senior police officer head-ing Chhattisgarh's intelligence apparatus, in a moment of rare candour, offered an insightful comment into the confusion that prevails over the Maoist conflict. Evoking the parable of the elephant and the blind men, he said, 'Each of us is seeing just a part of it, depending on where we are.' At the hands of an able editor, an edited volume with diverse contributions could have lighted up many views of the elephant to bring the reader as close as possible to a full rounded view of the Maoist conflict. But the book un-der review, The Naxal Threat: Causes, State Responses and Consequences, unfortunately, ends up inducing the ...


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