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Mainstream, VOL LI, No 24, June 1, 2013

On IPL Spot-fixing, Bloody Maoist Operation


Saturday 1 June 2013, by SC

Two developments of the last few days have stirred the country at large.

First came the new revelations of spot-fixing in the Indian Premier League; these are assuming ever-serious dimension with every passing day and yet, as The Indian Express has aptly noted, “no official, either from the BCCI or IPL, has quit”. In fact the person holding the reins of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) continues to hold on to the chair of the BCCI head even though propriety demanded that he should have resigned as soon as his close relative was found to be directly involved in the murky deals that now threaten to sully Indian cricket. Not only did the person (N. Srinivasan) not step down from the office of the BCCI President on moral grounds, but he did not even for once highlight the enormity of the crisis emanating from the spot-fixing scam. Even though the demand for his exit from the Board is growing, his action in rejecting it has further tarnished the game of cricket in this country.

Against this backdrop veteran sports commentator Ayaz Memon has appealed to the celebrated Indian cricketers to speak out their minds breaking their veil of silence on the subject. As he underlines in The Times of India,

This is the time for the players to find a voice and expression: as a service to the sport and themselves. The deficit of trust is not just in administrators, but has spread now to include players. If unaddressed, it could consume their credibility to the extent that the sport could collapse.

All things considered, do fans really care so much about administrators etc. or about players? In the deepest crisis who would they trust more, N. Srinivasan, Arun Jaitley, Rajeev Shukla et al. or M.S. Dhoni, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly?

The question is: would the star cricketers positively respond to the appeal in a bid to save Indian cricket? The answer is, unfortunately, anybody’s guess.

The second was the horrendous attack by the Maoists on the political leaders of the Congress in Chhattisgarh. The bloody Maoist operation carried out on Saturday, May 25 (ironically it was the Buddha Purnima Day), that killed 29 persons, including the founder of the ‘Salwa Judum’ campaign—the anti-Maoist movement which divided the tribals—and the current PCC chief, has stunned all those in the civil society interested in tribal welfare and who had no hesitation in acclaiming the Maoist resistance to the state’s wholehearted moves to ensure corporate takeover of tribals’ land especially in the Bastar region, a Maoist stronghold today. True, as the Maoists have said, this action was in retaliation of the security forces’ killing of 19 tribals at Sarkeguda a year ago as well as another similar “encounter” that led to a lesser number of casualties on the tribals’ side barely a week back. Also, the founder of Salwa Judum Mahendra Karma, a Congress leader, was always the Maoists’ target. But all these do not explain the wanton killing of so many persons (and that too civilian politicians, not personnel of the security forces) that constitutes an enormous provocation paving the way for a possible massive counter-terror operation by the security forces wherein there could be largescale loss of tribal lives.

At the same time, as Ashutosh Bhardwaj correctly points out in The Indian Express,

Bastar today has five times more security personnel than 10 years ago, armed with the best weapons, but the Maoist kingdom has remained intact, the civic administration retreated.

In his opinion, the task is to

Explore and explode the Maoist myth. A myth becomes formidable, supernatural, if not explained. Demystify the aura around the guerrillas... They thrive in the shadow of India’s collective indifference. Know their lives, their agendas, and ambitions. Their networks and connections, political and social. Give faces to the names that routinely surface after every attack. Instead of indulging in guess work after every attack, dedicate energies to understanding and engaging with the Maoist.

That is what is necessary, not strident calls for deploying the armed forces by infantile ex-servicemen totally divorced from the ground reality. However, if past record is any indication, one gets the distinct feeling that Bhardwaj’s suggestions would in all probability fall on deaf ears.

May 30 S.C.

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