LSTV Insights: Atrocities of Boko Haram
Few days back Boko Haram is said to have killed 2000 people in a single attack. Though Nigerian government put figures at 100, undisputable fact is that area under influence and brutality of Boko Haram is on rise. Elections in Nigeria are due in February, due to which government may be deliberately downplaying the numbers. Shockingly, ministers of Nigeria condemned attacks on Paris on Twitter, but they said nothing for this massacre in their own country.
In these attacks militants have capture Baga and 16 other towns in northeast Nigeria. State establishment like police and Soldiers put little resistance and fled the scene, leaving civilians at peril of Boko haram.
Nigeria is largest economy of Africa and has significant oil reserves. Its 80% of revenues come from oil. In fact, few years back it had impressive growth rate and was among preferred investment destination in Africa. But Nigeria n society is one of the most corrupt and unequal one. Gini coefficient is .5 which indicates that upper 1% population have say over all the resources of the country. There government is accused of huge scandals. Even Nigerian army is found to be selling their weapons to militants for pecuniary benefits.
Further, after fall/evasion of al-Qaida in 2003, they engaged themselves in training these groups. Boko haram has been suppressed twice one in 2003 and second in 2009. But this time it rose with extreme vigour. It appears it is part of global developments toward anti-modernism. It has similar tendencies to that of ISIS or Tehreek –e – Taliban. They all are targeting educational institutions and want imposition of medieval Islam. Term ‘Boko Haram’ itself means that western education is illicit.
Further, in Nigeria there is extreme North South divide. Current Prime Minister (and whole regime) is from South Nigeria and they show clear indifference towards people from the north. Boko Haram initially mobilized people in the name of ousting government controlled by southern people. Oil reserves are concentrated in south. This seem to be ultimate target of Boko Haram.
Boko Haram has (like ISIS) acquired territories or influence in neighbouring countries too. These are Niger, Chad, Mali, Cameroon and Libya.
International community too has shown indifference toward Boko Haram. Almost all countries condemned murder of 17 people in Paris, but no one found massacre of 2000 people to be important enough. Perhaps, Africa is still being treated as a dark continent. Last year school 200 school going girls were kidnapped and atleast 150 are still untraceable. Boko Haram later released a video in which these girls were reciting Koran and militants claimed to have turned these girls into sex slave. Few years back, France proposed formation of Multinational Taskforce in which affected countries will commit their troops. This taskforce however, is under manned, under supplied and demoralized.
Again here ideology of Jihadi Islam is gaining ground among youngsters. Northern Nigeria is extremely poor and this makes frustrated youngsters even more vulnerable. This will have to be handled at armed level, political and Ideological level. So far Nigerian Government has punished communities involved in militancy severely. They are not considering winning of hearts and minds approach.
India’s role has been limited to silent aid and development provider. In contrast China is brandishing its Unmanned Ariel Vehicles and other surveillance systems with much pomp. India should engage much visibly and vocally if has aspirations of being world leader. We can share our successful experience in counterinsurgency operations in Punjab , J&K and North East.