The nation signalled two serious internal threats this weekend. One came from Manipur, where militants ambushed security forces in Churachandpur district near the Myanmar border, killing an Assam Rifles Colonel, his family and four soldiers. In Gadchiroli in Maharashtra, 26 Maoists were shot down and several policemen injured in an encounter with a task force of the state police. Notably, the insurgency in the North-East was on low-key in recent times; so were the Maoist-Naxalite offensives. Put together, fresh question marks have been raised on internal security. While Congress leader Rahul Gandhi pointed an accusing finger at the Modi government for these grim incidents, it should be noted merely as a perception of the national opposition. Overall, the NDA government has been able to keep internal security under control. Terrorist attacks from the Pakistani-inspired pro-Kashmiri militant groups are now limited to Jammu and Kashmir, unlike during the UPA regime when the worst of it was witnessed in Mumbai and elsewhere too. Yet, the message from Gadchiroli and Manipur are that there can be no let-up in maintaining internal security even as there are vulnerabilities in multiple fronts and worse scenarios could emerge unless those in charge of both internal and external security are on high alert. Insurgency in the North-East has a separatist angle to it and this is unacceptable. Genuine issues and grievances of different groups who perceive to be deprived of good governance needs to be addressed and a sense of belongingness strengthened among the local population. The fight against insurgency can only be won with the people’s support.
Maoists claim to uphold the cause of the poor, the deprived, the desperate tribals and Dalits who continue to remain destitute. Beyond the cacophony and rhetoric of reaching out to the Dalits and tribals very little was done for them in the past about 75 years of Independence. Prime Minister Modi never tires of claiming he is the godfather for India’s poor, but the promises are often hollow. A prerequisite to the welfare of the common man is a high rate of economic growth. But other than the rich, who made more money even during Covid times through governmental patronage and raised their financial status to higher levels, growth for the common man remains stunted. This is bound to encourage Maoists to draw in more volunteers into their ranks. Militancy is no way to solve problems, as challenging the state’s might is more difficult now because of the sophisticated arsenal that is at its command. At the same time, it is incumbent on governments to address the problems of India’s poor and make them the real stakeholders in governance through a participatory system of decision-making.