Recently in his address to the Interfaith Seminar hosted by the British Sikh Association, Lord Hylton also known as Raymond Hervey Jolliffe, Member of Parliament commented “… My experience over more than 30 years in Northern Ireland convinces me that finding our common humanity is the key to peace. As they say, blood is the same colour whatever your race or creed. Personal or group identity is, however, highly important for most people. We have seen this very clearly in the conflicts that have followed the break-up of the Ottoman, Russian/Soviet and British Empires. Artificial successor states such as Jugoslavia, or Iraq, and now Syria, have proved unstable, except when controlled by ‘strong-men’, such as Tito, Saddam Hussein, or the Assad family. Today’s young generation is not keen on strong men…”
These are troubled times and the message imparted by Lord Hylton applies more to our context then it would do in any other.
On July 5th 2011, the Supreme Court of India ordered that Salwa Judum is unconstitutional and that the State immediately disband all the Special Police Officers appointed by the State of Chhattisgarh to fight the Maoists. Along with this came orders that CBI inquiries be conducted for the killings in the villages of Tadmetla, Timapur and Morpalli.
I am somehow able to relate this travesty to what Winston Churchill had remarked. It was in March of 1931, whilst speaking at the Royal Albert Hall, he cautioned that “If the British left, India will fall back quite rapidly through the centuries into the barbarism and privations of the Middle Ages”.
On one other occasion he said that power in India will go to the hands of rogues and freebooters. All Indian leaders will be of low calibre and men of straw. They will have sweet tongues and silly hearts. They will fight amongst themselves for power and India will be lost in political squabbles.
Eighty years hence, it seems as though his predictions, if at all they were, are no lesser truths.
A bunch of writ petitioners headed by Nalini Sundar, approached the Supreme Court of India pleading before the Apex Court inviting its attention at the deplorable state of affairs in the state of Chhattisgarh. It was pointed out that a militia comprising of poorly trained and uneducated villagers was being systematically built up to fight the Maoists.
Shockingly it was told to the Court that ‘peace march’ or ‘purification hunt’ is what Salwa Judum means in the local parlance.
Chhatisgarh as a state is a part of the Union of India. It gained its statehood in the on 1st November, 2000. And within a period of less than 11 years since its formation, the state of affairs fell to such lows, that the necessity arose to arm and equip innocent locals to cure the naxalite problem.
The Supreme Court while pronouncing its judgment travelled considerable distance to attack the state's ‘amoral’ economic policies and the ‘culture of unrestrained selfishness and greed spawned by modern neo-liberal economic ideology.’
Many found these remarks as nothing more than just obscurity. But I would that the remarks are not out of place, reason being that the state’s act of creating and arming of a civilian vigilante group to the battle against insurgencies by Maoist groups. Several tribal youth were being appointed as special police officers, and allegedly being called to battle. They were apparently being provided with firearms in the guise of being only for their self-defence.
India’s growth may have spiralled, but sadly so it has been at the cost of decadence of its constitutional values. The system that they foresaw in 1950 while adopting the Constitution of India still seems a distant dream.