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Operation Saffron Hunt?

By Satya Sagar

25 October, 2009

As the UPA government embarks on its ‘Operation Green Hunt’ against the Maoists maybe what it should really be carrying out is an ‘Operation Saffron Hunt’ - against Hindu extremists who pose a far greater threat to the internal security of India.

Truth is, despite all the official and media hype about the spread of Maoists and their dramatic attacks against state forces in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and parts of West Bengal, they are simply no match for what the shadowy network Hindu fundamentalists have been doing or are capable of doing.

Let us compare the overall threat to the Indian nation from these two movements, one fighting for a ‘New Democratic Revolution’ and the other for a ‘Hindu Rashtra’:

a) The claim is that Maoists are spreading rapidly in different parts of the country and operating in 180 districts of India. They are further said to be building a Red Corridor through the forested tracts of central India from Telangana all the way to the Indian border with Nepal. Once they establish their bases here it is feared they will launch an armed assault to take over power in the country.

First of all the Maoists are not really as strong as they are made out to be by both State as well as Maoist propaganda. Even if they capture the entire forest belt of central India this is not going to help them come to power in rest of the country as they have no presence anywhere else at all. They are not to be found among the peasantry, unorganised or organised workers, the urban poor or even among students who used to be their ardent supporters once upon a time. Taking over a country as large and diverse as India with a powerful state machinery in command is simply not on the cards.

In contrast Hindutva extremists are there everywhere around the country and their political front the BJP has already been in power at the national level and still controls several state governments around the country. The RSS, the fountainhead of Hindutva, has a presence in all districts of India and runs dozens of front organisations and institutions. The VHP and various other extremist Hindu outfits even more to the right of the RSS too have a presence in most parts of the country and carry out attacks on religious minorities, others who oppose them and on all democratic institutions with impunity.

Even more disturbingly extreme Hindutva elements have penetrated the Indian army as the case of Lt.Col. Purohit, arrested by the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) for his role in the Malegaon blast case, showed. There is no doubt they are also well entrenched within the bureaucracy all over the country and have a presence even within sections of the judiciary.

The simple fact is while the Maoists are still struggling to build their Red Corridor the Hindu extremists have already completed construction of the Saffron Scaffold all over the nation for takeover of power anytime they want

b) Yes, the Maoists don’t believe in the Indian Constitution, call for a boycott of elections and are waging an armed struggle to overthrow the Indian state. In recent years they have also acquired modern weaponry and collect substantial funds through taxes on businesses, contractors and companies operating in the areas under their control.

Hindutva extremists are more dangerous as they are sophisticatedly using both Constitutional as well as extra-Constitutional means to establish a ‘Hindu Rashtra’. So they put up candidates to fight elections wherever possible and even if they lose continue to subvert Indian democracy by setting up a parallel state within the country.
What’s more, the Hindutva fanatics are far better armed than the Maoists with military training schools of their own, bomb and gun making factories and have been carrying out terrorist attacks in different parts of the country for at least the past two decades. They are also better funded than any non-governmental force in India with money pouring in from both within and outside India.

c) It is claimed if the Maoists ever come to power they will establish a brutal dictatorship. That could well be true as there is little indication that the Maoists believe in democratic processes of any kind in dealing with even dissidents within their fold leave alone their opponents. If they do come to power at all there is bound to be a frightening arbitrariness to their rule.

However, if the Hindu extremists come to power there will be nothing short of a fascist dictatorship along with a genocide of religious minorities and the end of every democratic institution in the country. Members of the Abhinav Bharat, as mentioned in the chargesheet filed against them by the Maharashtra ATS, had already drawn up a new Constitution that would make all religious minorities into second-class citizens. It would be truly back to the Dark Ages as far as Indian democracy is concerned.
What all the sensational media and state focus on Maoist activities is really obscuring is the fact that all around South Asia the biggest internal security threat to each country in the region comes from religious fundamentalist movements from within the majority communities.

This is only too obvious in Pakistan right now where the same military establishment that encouraged and used Islamic fundamentalists for various purposes over the decades is engaged in a life and death struggle against them. In Bangladesh the rising tide of religious fundamentalism has been barely stemmed by the military there through a coup and at the cost of the country’s nascent democratic institutions.

In Sri Lanka the Buddhist fundamentalists have actually won power by annihilating the LTTE along with some 20,000 Tamil civilians, while another 300,000 Tamils are interned in concentration camps reminiscent of Nazi Germany. The Mahinda Rajapakse regime in Colombo is a glimpse of what would happen in other South Asian countries if the religious fundamentalists come to power.

In India too it is Hindu extremists who really pose the biggest threat to the Indian republic, its secular and democratic Constitution. Turning a blind eye to their subversive activities and even worse- pampering them as successive governments and state agencies have done could well result in their becoming for India what the home-grown Taliban have become for Pakistan.

The main reason why the Maoists are being targeted by both the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Home Minister P.Chidambaram is because their presence in the forested tracts of central India is an obstacle to domestic and foreign corporations trying to grab land and resources in these areas. Nobody was really interested in what the Maoists were doing in these forests through the eighties and nineties but when global and domestic corporations started signing MoUs for mining operations the Indian ruling class has woken up to the ‘Maoist Menace’!

In fact, a better name for the planned mobilisation of army and paramilitary troops against them by the Indian government would be ‘Operation Mineral Hunt’. A hunt that will only result in a horrific bloodbath of innocent tribal people doing further injustice to the indigenous people of the country who have been pushed around for centuries and treated like dirt by ‘Aryan’ India.

Satya Sagar is a writer, journalist and video-maker based in New Delhi. He can be contacted at [email protected]


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