The thin red line

CRPF in Abhujmaad shows how ‘liberated zone’ is a self-serving myth for Maoists and govt

Written by The Indian Express | Published: April 10, 2012 2:35 am

CRPF in Abhujmaad shows how ‘liberated zone’ is a self-serving myth for Maoists and govt

In a never-before feat,the CRPF entered the mysterious heart of Maoist territory last month — over 6,000 sq km of jungle splayed across Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra. Abhujmaad,literally,the unknown hills,has been left to itself after the Maoists moved here in the 1980s and,having found no trace of administration,declared it their “liberated zone” run by the “people’s government”. Government officials also tend to describe the area as impossible to know,let alone govern. Naxalites blow up roads and attack any symbol of the state,making development work impossible. Until 2010,the state banned outsiders from entering the forest or making contact with the tribals .

Yet,everything that appears impossible in Chhattisgarh is humming along nicely in Maharashtra — roads are durable,schools and health centres work and,most importantly,the police know that it is fully backed. As a series of reports in this newspaper reveals,Chhattisgarh’s myths about Abhujmaad only reinforce the destructive dynamic at the root of the Maoist problem. Daunted by Naxal determination,it makes no real attempt to establish its presence there,offering neither the solid protection of the state nor basic development — in turn allowing Naxals to justify their violence.

The CRPF’s attempt was to demystify the idea of such lawless enclaves,vast stretches where the state’s writ does not operate. There is no excuse for abandoning a whole region (larger than the state of Goa) and its population,depriving them of their entitlements,by “admitting” that these are “liberated” zones. The CRPF operation has made it clear that Abhujmaad is not off-limits to a determined force: the Chhattisgarh administration should build on its new insight into the area,go in there with all the resources at its command,and give the people a stake in their state and nation. It has no business entertaining self-defeating notions about what is possible in Abhujmaad.

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