Repeated killing does not dull the edge of tragedy. For the families of the 25 Central Reserve Police Force men murdered by extremists in Sukma, Chhattisgarh, the pain is as acute and irredeemable as that felt by the kin of 12 CRPF personnel killed in March, 60 kilometres from the most recent kill-spot, or the 76 personnel killed in Sukma in 2010. These are, of course, not the only CRPF men that are dying throughout the country, since the CRPF is deployed to deal with extremists all along the hilly, forested "red corridor" in five states, apart from being posted in the Northeast and in Jammu and Kashmir.
The losses in Sukma are, however, enough to indicate the failure of consecutive governments to evolve any efficient policy even to improve matters. The specific failures in the most recent incident are only too familiar. The CRPF contingent was guarding workers building a road, which would lead to the most poorly developed areas. That is part of the old plan to reduce extremism, and it is also old knowledge that the outlaws target such infrastructure building.
Yet there was no intelligence. What kind of neglect, and whose, should then be held responsible for the deaths of 25 men?
The previous government had not made much headway in tackling ultra-Left violence and dominance in the Dandakaranya belt. Having declared its predecessor weak-kneed, Narendra Modi's government vocalized a multi-pronged strategy to defeat left-wing extremism. But the slips are showing. The CRPF has had no director-general for two months - a dangerous situation for a rigidly disciplined hierarchy. Security experts have noted the lack of a coherent policy to address the rights and development of the underprivileged populations in the area and simultaneously contain extremist expansion.
Terrain and livelihood, the causes and scale of radicalization and the use of technology by extremists are issues relevant to policy formation. Perhaps all the energy in planning and determination in execution of Mr Modi's government is expended on protecting the cow. Even then some puzzles refuse to go away. Since Mr Modi and his ministers are so admiring of the army's sacrifices and patriotism, it would be expected that the CRPF, the largest paramilitary outfit, would get a fraction of the same respectful attention. The sacrifices and dutifulness of its personnel are not less than those of the soldiers. But so far, such does not appear to be the case.
The Telegraph, April 27, 2017