“We can’t stop getting killed”


By T S Sudhir

“We can’t stop getting killed”. “We can’t stop getting killed”. “We can’t stop getting killed”.

These words uttered by a young, dynamic Chhattisgarh cadre IPS officer to me, over the phone last night, keeps reverberating in my ears. This officer cut his teeth in the jungles of Dantewada, before being posted out after an ambush by the Maoists that killed several CRPF jawans.

But lest you get me wrong, this is not a coward laying down arms. It is the honest truth in Chhattisgarh today. The writ of Raman Singh runs only in Raipur. Most of his domain exists only on paper, the Maoists call the shots, quite literally.

Which is why with every Maoist attack on security personnel, the shock value of the bloodshed is no longer felt in North Block, the way it was in April when 75 CRPF jawans were killed by Maoists in Dantewada. `Red massacre’ screamed newspaper headlines then. The BJP produced lyrical criticism (`the red corridor has become the blood corridor’). Pressure was mounted on the home ministry that it had to show action on ground. That it will match a bullet with a bullet. Two months and two ambushes (killing 31 and 27) later, P Chidambaram is yet to bite the bullet.

The standard response has been to send in reinforcements. Almost as if feeding the monster. For heavens sake, they are not meant to do bandobast duty in the jungles.

CRPF jawan, unfamiliar with terrain, culture and language, untrained to fight a better trained, motivated and intelligent Maoist army, are being consumed in the dark underbelly of India in south Chhattisgarh. Reduced to statistics, footnotes in India’s war against Red terror. 5 dead is a small number, 27 is big, 76 is a massacre.

As I cross the Chhattisgarh-Andhra Pradesh at Konta, several fortresses greet us. These are police stations, a symbol of fear and anxiety. They have to guard not the people, but themselves from Maoist attacks because the outlaws will attack them to loot their weapons. These are not sights new to me. I have seen northern Telangana and Nallamalla region go through similar labour pain in the 90s, when sentries would point a gun at you if your movements around the police stations were found suspicious.

Slogans of `Naxalwadi murdabad’ put up on boards outside police stations are ironically the only visible police response to Maoism in these parts. Which is why the CRPF is meant to give the men in khaki the edge over the Maoists. But in the warzone called Chhattisgarh, it is proving to be an IPKF kind of costly misadventure.

A senior CRPF officer lets me into everythng that is wrong with his organisation and the way it is being used in Chhattisgarh. “Everytime it is the same mistake of not following standard operating procedures. They don’t realise the Maoists have their eyes just about everywhere. They are noticing them. Their intelligence and courier network is better than ours. Can you imagine one of our parties had their lunch and dinner at the same place. When you are on an area domination mission, it is common sense that if you are taking the plains, you have to first secure and dominate the hilltops. In two of the recent cases, they failed to do so and were fired at by Maoists who had strategic positions on hilltops.”

Security experts also point fingers at the CRPF ethos. “This paramilitary force is built on the police model and its mid-level leadership more often than not, displays a daroga mentality. By deploying the CRPF in any kind of disturbed situation, the political establishment also has blunted its prowess. An average CRPF jawan still moves around with a stick.”

Compare this with how the district police forces in north Telangana behaved at the height of the naxal movement in Andhra Pradesh. They in fact, behaved more like paramilitary, almost morphed into a military entity.

At the CRPF base camp in Sukma, a jawan points out the emblem of the force to me. It displays the motto of the force : `Service and loyalty’. Crude as it may sound, the Maoists seem to be testing each one of them on this count.

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About t s sudhir & uma sudhir

Uma Sudhir and T S Sudhir are senior journalists, based in Hyderabad. Both work for NDTV. Uma is a Tamilian, who was educated in
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5 Responses to “We can’t stop getting killed”

  1. Serenity Stupidity says:

    Chilling report,Alarming report yet again, is anyone listening? Where will the buck stop now ? Who is the next Nalin ? Read reports, that CRPF jawans, were used to comb highways, to ensure safety for higher officers, about to go on leave. If these Jawans are visible for hours together like this, they are bound to land up in trouble. They cannot stop getting killed.

  2. Uma Sudhir

    A wonderful work of Brave Journalism, credit also goes to your associates who accompanied you on this daring act of Adventure Journalism to bring to the citizens”Truth as seen by you”.

    Well coming to the bare facts of the News is that there is killings call it Massacre of just cold blooded killings of CRPF men taking place on regular intervals.

    The hidden question that is being left unanswered by one and all, what is the reason behind this and other killing or the uprising of the Naxals in this Country, which got its independence by Virtue of Non Violence.

    what went wrong, where did it go wrong, when did it go wrong?
    Who is responsible for the wrongs?
    Who is going to take the responsibility of correcting the wrong?
    When will be the wrong corrected?
    How many more lives will be sacrificed to correct the Wrong?
    Will it be corrected ever?

    Well the questions that can be asked are countless and endless.

    What needs to be asked, answered is ………………….
    what is the reason behind all this?

    It is not that only the Maosists are toatally Wrong.

    I ask the author of this blog, when you visited Chattisgargh and the villages where these so called Maosists have been given birth, did you see or feel that your were living in the 21st Century.

    By 21st Century I definitely do not mean that you would have seen facilities like those seen in metros of India, what i meant to bring forth is that did you see the very basic civic necessities are available for those Citizens who live there.

    Chalo for a moment we will stop and ask, if not for what is available to Citizens living in metro’s, did you see the Bare Civic Necessities like Electricity, Safe Drinking water, Public Toilets, Schools, primary Health Centers, opportunity for earning daily wages as per the Indian labour acts and much more that is required by a human for just SURVIVAL.

    I have seen in most parts of the Rural Areas, the Citizens living conditions there are to put it absolutely mildly are “PATHETIC and in some places Disgusting”.

    For these conditions of my fellow citizens, I blame the Governments of the past and the present and the political parties that took control of the Governments from the time of Independence till date, have had one single agenda on their minds and that my dear was not the People or their well being it was only themselves and their parties.These people have only worked for themselves and for the GLORY of their so called political Parties.

    We the Citizens of this country carry the YOKE on our shoulders and pay for the salaries, accommodations, travels and other comforts of some of the Members of Parliament, who in their term of 5 years have not bothered or cared or had the sincerity, decency, loyalty or care of asking a single question or make a suggestion that would help the government to offer better living conditions, job or business opportunities for the sake of the Citizens.

    We have seen time and again in the News relayed through the numerous TV Channels the leaders of the political Parties being presented SWORDS, instead of Flowers or some other materials or objects that reflect our past and how we got liberated from the British Raj.

    The present day Political Leaders have truly accepted the true meaning of this “BE THE CHANGE YOU WANT TO SEE”

    and one more and that is ‘THOSE WHO LIVE BY THE SWORD DIE BY THE SWORD”

    To conclude, I blame, myself and all the other citizens of this country who wish to live a dormant live and contribute to the disturbing situations that are gradually spreading in all parts of this once a peaceful country.


    to Uma Sudhir, I wish all the very best, keep up the Courageous work 🙂

    • Serenity Stupidity says:

      Dear Anil, Completely agree with ur Blame. We the People, is inclusive , not exclusive. 1st is me; but even i have realized, that until We the People feel responsible, vote brilliantly, realize what real development is, and become a bit more pro-active, true development will not occur, naxalism will not die and india will continue to deteriorate in a vicious downward spiral, unnoticed in the sparkles of metro-life. The Only Hope, is nurturing own kids( OWN kids atleast ) to be better citizens; and to that end, a few torch-bearers, like the Sudhirs, continue to march. But right now, I APOLOGIZE to Uma and TS both, that even my comment like Anil’s, is too long.

      • hi. when we are trying to comment or make a point, does length really matter.? Being succinct / Brevity has its advantages in the era we live in, of 140-letter twitters and short attention spans. But then sometimes we need the eloquence of words to convey deeper sentiments, don’t we? U r most welcome to make l…o…n…g comments ! warm regards uma

  3. Seema says:

    When all is said n done
    Do we wonder why we’d begun
    “Lost n forgotten, what we sought …
    What was the issue n why we fought?
    This wasn’t supposed to be the goal…
    men, women n kids… without a soul!
    Whether right or in wrong…
    Whichever side did they belong…
    Ultimately what they achieved
    Only bodies of the deceased!!”
    Seema Chawdhary
    (for the people who lost their lives…in Chattisgarh…Dantewada)

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