Breach of trust

In a direct breach of the earlier commitment made by the Maoist supremo Prachanda to desist from destroying development infrastructure and targeting project property, members of the rebel outfit on Sunday torched the vehicles and machinery of Nakatajhij Agriculture Development Project (NADP) near Janakpurdham inflicting loss of over Rs 80 million and leading to the closure of the Janakpur-Jayanagar railway. This project has been providing irrigation to over 23 districts through deep boring and the latest arson attack is likely to affect irrigation in the adjacent areas. The attack further raises question as to why the rebels had to issue a statement to that effect if they themselves had to flout it so openly now. Saying one thing and doing just the opposite would seriously undermine the rebels’ already sagging credibility. Now that they have attacked a project office by disregarding their own word, why should the public trust them anymore?

Attack on any infrastructure is unacceptable, far less those on organisations that cater to the agriculture industry, a sector that is the mainstay of the national economy. Majority of the people are farmers and any project that caters to the agricultural growth should be encouraged. The project served the agricultural industry and this meant that the poorest of the poor received a windfall from it. Now that the attack has left this poor lot high and dry, it is hard to believe the claim that the Maoists are waging the so-called “people’s war” mainly to provide the marginalised majority a better deal. The funds used to support the project would have come from donor countries whose tax-payers would not want their hard-eared money to be gutted at the hands of insurgents at some far away location.

Appalling as attacks against any organisation and sector certainly are, that agriculture should have been targeted makes it even more disgusting. If there are few such sectors which the Maoists will do well to keep their hands off, then agriculture is definitely one among them. This is not to say that the rebels can continue venting their fury on other sectors. Projects like the NADP and the infrastructure that the ultras set fire on will still be necessary even if they were to share power at any point in time. No explanation whatsoever will justify attacks on infrastructure and development projects. The Maoists should keep away from the lowly means such as torching vehicles and machinery which have benefited the poor people in the countryside. The recent ADB projection of the GDP growth in the country next year, largely based on agriculture, is also bound to suffer if this and other essential sectors continue to be attacked by the rebels.