Shocking scenes of destruction and sorrow dominated headlines for the past few days in India as 150 innocent people lost their lives in the train allegedly derailed by Maoist rebels in the eastern state of West Bengal. It is a usual tactic and there have been several instances in the past where trains have been attacked and innocent lives lost. But even as such violence plays out intermittently there has been much debate in India on how to deal with the Maoist menace. Human rights activists have sprung to the defence of the Maoists saying the government should stop any armed offensive against them and address the root cause which is years of socio-economic subjugation.
Similar opinions have also been voiced by human rights groups when Ajmal Amir Kasab, the key accused in the 26/11 terror attacks was pronounced guilty and given the death sentence. Many believed the 20 year old was just a pawn; a henchman who did what he did out of desperate poverty and hopelessness, that killing him was hardly going to be a solution to the larger problem of international terrorism. There were several voices in the mainstream media, on social networking sites and blogs opposing capital punishment altogether saying it was a medieval practice banned in most developed nations and that India should do the same.
While I tend to agree that violence of any sort ought to be abjured by the state and only used in the rarest of rare circumstances, a lot of what is being propagated by these so – called human rights groups is easy armchair philosophy and pseudo intellectual hogwash. Why for instance should a man like Kasab who has killed 166 people be allowed to live on tax payers money when the crores spent on his security could be put to better use? Moreover is being self-righteous about his death really justified when he has himself violated the fundamental right to life of 166 people? Agreed, he might have chosen to become a Taliban recruit out of economic desperation and brainwashing, but doesn’t every human being have a basic morality that they need to uphold to prevent social anarchy from setting in?
With the Maoists, as with the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka, the issue has been that of years of suppression and discrimination leading to an uprising of sorts. As with all the other revolts in history this one too has turned bloody, fraudulent, power hungry and deflecting from its real intent and thus needs to be brought under control in order to bring some sort of closure. If, like human rights groups propose we wait for development to reach these people (which is when they believe the violence will stop), we will probably end up with many more years of bloodshed where innocent civilians will needlessly suffer.
I don’t propose a China or US like policy where capital punishment is meted out indiscriminately and people are held guilty without trial. But the problem with many of these self-proclaimed human rights groups is that their elitist views are very often hopelessly out of sync with an angered public that has been at the suffering end of these atrocities for years. For them too, we need to spare a thought!