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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Release of Jhina Hikaka and negotiating for Alex Menon - what cost ?

Defeat of the State at the hands of Maoists, having to succumb to their demands does not augur well for the Nation.  Yet another time when the state is acting like the proverbial headless chicken.  Every time such a kidnapping occur, emerges Civil society mediators – the State gets forced to meet the ransom demands of hostage takers. Yes, the State is pressurized by the fact that they have to obtain release of high power victims and negotiation is one-sided.  Maoists give a devil's choice demanding the release of eight prisoners in exchange for Sukma collector Alex Paul Menon.  In every such instance, the ghost of release of dreaded prisoners for the release of abducted Rubaiya though vehemently opposed by the then CM continues to haunt.  

The sympathizers might even say that the Collector and MLA are not innocent bystanders, but representatives of the State.  The negotiations are not for any package but release of those captured after struggle and against whom cases are pending.  To some, Maoists are a kind of militant socialists, not very different from the Congress or the Communists who serve in our Parliament.   But it is reported that as many as 720 non-combatants were killed by the Maoists, in addition to the 285 security force personnel.   The tribal and long-neglected regions certainly need development and more funds for their growth – but what is happening is not what should be happening !

For begetting Alex Menon, Raman Singh has little options and the surrender of Naveen Patnaik sure would weigh down heavily.  Concern for human rights is well taken in a civil society but one should always think that those supporters never raise single voice when it comes to the killing of innocent civilians, or police by the militants.   From the volumes of news, it is learnt that the  six hardcore cadres that the Maoists want freed in exchange for the abducted Sukma district collector Alex Paul Menon have 122 criminal and terror cases lodged against them.  Three women top this dreaded list of cadres. One of them is Nirmala, who has as many as 67 cases pending against her while another woman member Malti alias Shantipriya was in 2010 sentenced to 10 years in prison for waging war against the state and had not even bothered to file an appeal.  Mail Today  reportedly has accessed the dossiers of the hardcore prisoners demanded by the Maoists and writes that the Home ministry and the Chhattisgarh government are both so far dead against releasing any of these six Maoists.

Not far away from the happenings of Alex Menon episode, Odisha Maoists have reportedly freed BJD MLA Jhina Hikaka after more than a month in captivity. News of Hikaka’s release came in the wake of a decision taken on Wednesday by the Maoists Praja Court or People’s Court to free him, on the condition that he resign from his position if Maoist demands were not fulfilled. Media reports quoting sources, said Hikaka had been released in an undisclosed location into the custody of his wife, and Nihar Ranjan Patnaik, a lawyer who fights cases for the Naxals. The AOBSZC has stuck to their demand for release of 29 rebels in exchange for the MLA’s freedom, while the Odisha government was ready to facilitate release of 25 prisoners. Sharp differences among Maoists had come to the fore over the demands for release of Hikaka. Earlier, A Maoist leader calling herself Aruna, in an audio message aired by a local television channel in Bhubaneswar, said the decision to free Hikaka was taken in a people's court held on Monday and Tuesday.  She is quoted as stating that  the legislator apologised to the rebels and villagers who participated in the people's court for not being able to solve the problems of the tribal people through the political process. The people's court decided to release him after he announced that he would resign from the BJD as well as from the assembly soon after his release, the rebel leader said.

There have been occasions when such acts of terrorism have been supported by various political parties for their ends such as the roping in of Maoist support by Trinamool Congress in changing Nandigram and Singur agitations to trounce the CPM in the state. The marriage of convenience was brief and bitter.  Earlier the CPM too had indulged in a similar cynical game.  In some ways, they do not champion the cause of tribals, but become power hungry anarchists prospering at the cost of tribals.

It is time the Nation drafts a strong stringent Policy to deal with these sort of situations ruthlessly

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

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