Dilemmas of Deployment

The question surrounding deployment of armed troops into conflict areas is a difficult decision requiring the highest decision-making authorities to discern political will and ethical conscience. The consequences of this decision goes beyond just deployment of a given number of troops into a specific geographical area, it invariably concerns and involves matters concerning, right to life.

Troop deployment has revolved around central questions of peace-keeping, peace-making and peace-enforcing in conflict areas, which has generated intense debate on whether its serves the purposes of peace-building. The question of troop deployment becomes more critical when a government as policy uses its armed forces as a primary means to solve a political crisis or to create a situation where armed groups are pressured into an imbalanced negotiating process. 

No matter what the justification, the heart of the matter remains that use of armed forces to address crisis, have and will continue to be questionable. This is not a matter of political sloganeering; it is an issue of human conscience that emphasizes on need for democratic processes and mechanisms to be used for addressing differences. 

At a time when humankind is becoming acutely anxious on use of force and acts of terror as a means to serve an end by state and non-state groups, it is becoming increasingly essential for civil society, or what little remains of it, to personify the voice of reason and conscience, not by whitewashing away the issues, but by demanding that issues are addressed justly for democratic solutions to be possible. This is critical in minimizing and eventually, preventing political violence. 

For decades, Nagas in general have questioned the rationale of troop deployment in their own areas and critically opposed the militaristic approach as a means of addressing the Indo-Naga issue. It would be fair to say that there was a consensual understanding among Nagas that the Indo-Naga issue was political in nature and hence requiring a political approach for a political solution. It is tragically ironic that this very voice of reason and conscience that opposed armed intervention became a mute spectator when the 9th IRB were given marching orders to Chhattisgarh.  

While there were pockets that opposed deployment of the 9th IRB to Chhattisgarh there were also those that supported it. All of a sudden, the deployment of Naga forces became a question of pride and honor with some opining that their withdrawal would be an act of cowardice. Too many times has pride and honor been the underlying rationale sought for war; and at the cost of what, human life. 

At the end of the day, the argument is not about whether the soldiers are duty-bound to follow orders or that death is part of the occupational hazard; neither is about whether or not they are well-trained and well-equipped for the particular job. The core question is whether deployment of the 9th IRB is reflective of a democratic means in addressing the issues. Of all the people, considering the Naga peoples own experience with militarization, policy-makers of Nagaland Government should have known better.