Extreme reactions (India)

The impunity enjoyed by the Maoist insurgents in India has already claimed over 500 victims this year, till date. While the hue and cry after an attempt on a minister's life is audibly stronger than the ministerial indignation at civilian and police casualties of Maoist violence, the state has, on the whole, visibly failed itself and its citizens in ending the narrative of red terror. Sunday's landmine explosion at Baroa in West Midnapore district fell into the well-established pattern of Maoist strikes across the affected states.


However, there are two reasons why this particular explosion was significant: first and obvious, two Union ministers, the Bengal CM, the state industry minister and a prominent industrialist had a narrow escape from the blast. The second reason is the reminder the attack provided of just how deeply involved leftist extremists are in anti-industrialisation activities.

As observed in the Singur agitation, it was the ultra-Left that had hijacked Mamata Banerjee's platform and drove the Tatas out and then celebrated. On Sunday, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, Ram Vilas Paswan and the others were returning after laying the foundation stone of a steel plant. Now, the CPM has been less compromising on Maoists than others. But policemen in the Maoist-infected areas of Bengal suffer the same problems as their counterparts in other states: the lack of adequate resources and will. The inquiry ordered by the CM has already produced some results. But Bhattacharjee should know the need for constant vigilance, the upgrading of police forces and the political will against terror.

As for the Centre, it needs to rethink the downgrading of Maoist violence to a state subject. Nor did it set a good precedent in Andhra Pradesh when top Naxalites were let off. It must upgrade the security of its ministers under threat, as the PM has promised Paswan. But it needs to act on a different scale to defeat the Maoists. From individuals to class enemies, the Naxalites have now certainly moved on to targeting industry.

Von: 04.11.2008, www.indianexpress.com

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