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Rising Maoist Activism – A Civil War Knocking at the doors!!!
"The baby born in the Seventies of last century has grown up to its youth-hood. We (our government) have tried our best to suppress it but the movement has gone beyond imagination. It’s time now to analyse the steps taken and decide whether the government should continue its suppressive measures with the help of armed force or be pro-active to change people’s and the activists’ mindset towards the government and combat the aggressive movement through cool but dynamic measures."
HNF Analysis : May 30, 2007
March 15, 2007 witnessed another massacre in Dantewada district of Chhatishgarh displayed by the Maoist Guerrilla Cadres. This time the target was the camp of cops. At around 2 AM in the dark early hours the ultra red cadres raided the camp, put 55 cops into death, looted the arms and vanished in the deep forests by the time there could be any reinforcement arrangement. This was the second massacre caused by the ultra red cadres. Earlier, in July 2006, they had killed 32 tribal members in a salwa judum (the anti-Maoist movement promoted by the government) camp in the same Dantewada District. In between, the Maoist ultras have killed many people including some tribal people, police officials and three forest department workers of Orissa, a popular political leader Sunil Mahato of Jharkhand etc. Earlier they had also blasted some police stations in Orissa and looted the government armoury in Koraput District headquarters and displayed their anger in Bihar, UP, Maharastra and many other states on many occassions.
Day by day, the activities of these red ultras go over-violent intended to generate fear psychosis among people and the administration. In order to create the financial resource base the radical leftists are into lots of illegal practices like large-scale Ganja cultivation and marketing (as evident from the case in Kandhamal District of Orissa where police had to destroy the Ganja fields over a vast landscape controlled by the Maoists), collecting money forcibly from richer people (businessmen, contractors and industrialists) based or working in the Maoist dominated places.
Even the non-government development agencies working in the backward districts are forced to pay a part of their grant for each project. As told by the Founder – Manager of an NGO, he had to pay handsome money to the naxalites operating in the Orissa - Andhra Pradesh borders just for staging street shows meant to make people aware about the dangers of AIDS. In most cases, local police officials are aware of all such works but never dare to go for an immediate reaction as the naxalites or present day Maoists are much more resourceful in terms of arms and support from the local public. As told by the secretary of west Bengal CPI Maoist faction on a TV Channel - ‘we were using country-made rifles and hand bombs in seventies only. Now we operate with ultra-model guns, grenades and rocket launchers’.
Maoists are consistently gathering strength and rising with a strong support base in the forest pack tribal populated districts of Andhra Pradesh, Chhatishgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharastra, Orissa, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Tripura, Manipur and some other states of India. As the recent incidents explain, they are mostly active in Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Chhatishgarh, Bihar and Jharkhand and use the edging forests and terrain tracks as the world under their virtual control that connects them with their Nepalese counterparts who have successfully entered the power corridors.
Although the Maoists of India are not that close to power, they have a strong hold over this vast forest track the hearts of tribal population living in the forests. Taking advantage of the support and the anguish over the government machinery, the Maoists run a parallel government called Janatana Sarkar, meaning People’s Government, in their red corridor. They have no constitution like document, but people have faith on them. Their verbal decision appeals people as it comes instant. There is no devil’s advocate to argue for the guilty nor does the process linger like our much professional judiciary that hears a case, sometimes, for a life time through different courts placed in the hierarchy. One who commits a mistake is punished and there is no backdoor for the devils.
The greatest thing is that, people believe their Jantana Sarkar does right and give them justice what they are not allowed by the great Indian democratic government. Should we call it failure of democracy? Or, as once anticipated by Churchill, did it fall in some ineligible hands who just made it a mess of power and money hankering leaders and forced the Naxalwari movement to take birth?
Whatever is the case, the baby born in the Seventies of last century has grown up to its youth-hood. We (our government) have tried our best to suppress it but the movement has gone more violent. It’s time now to analyse the steps taken and decide whether the government should continue its suppressive measures with the help of armed force or be pro-active to change people’s and the activists’ mindset towards the government and combat the aggressive movement through cool but dynamic measures.
The Naxalites or Maoists are mainly supported by the tribal and backward communities living in places where the development is less visible or almost invisible and there is a wide gulf between government officials and common people. Socio-economic disparity, unemployment problem, exploitation of innocent tribal folks and corruption are some usual features in those districts. State Governments have planned some industries in some of the backward districts on the plea that the industries would change the fate of people living around the site. But reality never goes the same way. Strong public reaction to large scale industrialisation on the issue of displacement and rehabilitation has become a blessing in disguise for the Maoists in India and worked as an opportunity to enter economic activity centres like mining areas and industrial zones.
Their active involvement on January 2, 2007 rally on the occasion of the anniversary day of Kalinga Nagar (Orissa) firing tragedy and the bandh call across West Bengal, Orissa, Jharkhand and Chhatishgarh on the issue of Nandigram (West Bengal) police firing shows their strength and proves how they work to win over the hearts of people who are affected by the large-scale industrialisation pursued by the government. These issues are used by the Maoists for making their place in the community as the protector of peoples’ right and the saviour of the proletariats. They pull the unemployed youth of the community into the Naxal or the Maoist fold in the name of an armed movement against oppression, corruption and exploitation to safeguard the individual rights. It seems as if through the Naxal Activism India is marching towards a civil war.
This fact raises the obvious question – why the youngsters, most of whom are at least a graduate - some are even B.Techs and MBAs, join the radical groups putting their life into hardship and risk? As an example, when a leading naxal cadre 'Ravi' died in an encounter by Andhra Pradesh Police, the administration came to know that he was an Engineer and one of the bright students of his batch. Like Ravi many talented youth who could contribute a lot to the nation and the society prefers to join such radical outfits. Why?
The primary force that drives the youth towards Naxal movement is frustration due to unemployment and poverty that puts the whole family in a struggle or gathering livelihood, due to humiliation and suppression by the capitalists of their society that leads to vengeance and vindictiveness, due to continuous negligence and harassment by the government officials who have a greater role to play in the public, and due to socio-economic inequality and non-fulfillment of material desires aroused out of social comparison.
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Socio-economic (mostly economic) disparity and frustration due to the irresponsible attitude of government, politicians and policy making bureaucrats towards the unemployment problem and livelihood issues in India make many youth join the Maoist brigades with the default mindset to act against the government and its systems and privileged communities. With good number of youth entering into their fold, the Maoists build their own armed force in the name of ‘People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army’ (PLGA) and depute them to work in more than 100 operative zones in India. The shocking fact is that, Maoists are now shifting their operations to the proposed industrial hubs planned in the backward states like Orissa, Jharkhand and Chhatishgarh with the aim to ensure a substantial and sustained financial resource base. Even, the communist ruled West Bengal is not free from their heinous activities.
Violence displayed by the Naxalites and the Maoists is nothing but an aggressive expression of the frustration that acts as the key factor in bringing them into these radical groups. The recent massacre of cops in Chhatishgarh and their activities in the previous years across the operative zones explain that the victims of their aggression are mostly either the police, local rich class, government officials or people who work against them – even if they are tribal folks. The reaction of the Naxalites against the tribals of Dantewada who joined Salwa Judum is an example of their reaction against people who support the government and oppose the left ultras.
Naxalites or the Maoists are mostly offensive to the police. In fact, not only among the Naxalites (or Maoists) and the backward communities, Indian Police doesn’t have a good image in general public. Instead of behaving as the protector of law and people, the role of police has always been like the master of people and imposer -twister of law to generate a fear psychosis in the public about it and make extra money. In most incidents, police acts on money and pressure from the privileged segment of the society. There are number of instances where police harassed common people and the tribals, put them behind bars without reasons and acted as an agent of the capitalists and corporate barons. It’s the police that killed general people in Nandigram, tribals in Kalinga Nagar, in Maikanch and ill treated the tribals of Lanjigarh and many other places. Police is always identified as the notorious face of the government. Police should change itself and act as a friend and the saviour of people for an image building.
Bureaucrats and officials posted in the backward and tribal populated districts of India take it as a punishment. Corruption and exploitation by the administrative machinery is rampant in those districts where poverty and misery are the basic features of people and society. People and communities living in these districts are never taken into confidence and involved in the process of policy making. Without any effort to know them, their lifestyle and culture, political leaders and bureaucrats always imposed policies on them most of which are less practicable or almost impracticable. As is the case in many backward districts, people still live in hamlets having no connectivity. They have to go many miles for any reason, be it marketing or medical related.
Like the people in the police and administration, political leaders elected by the tribal communities do not act for the all-round development of the community expectation and involve themselves in various corrupt practices. Once elected, they work to relocate in the cities and camouflage into Sahari Babus. So, the government, administration and so called mainstream society members are in many ways responsible for the rise of Naxalite and Maoist activism in India?
It is the governments at the state and centre that should look into the problems and livelihood issues and sort them out to build strong faith and a sense of contentment in the public towards democracy and the government which, unfortunately, has become a body of privileged people or medieval nobility. After sixty years of freedom, our leadership and bureaucracy should go for a critical appreciation through self-analysis and review of their role and works during the last years. The system formulated on a democratic platform must work for the people and hand to hand with people. Everybody in the system must realise that government is a public body meant for the welfare of the public and, like in any democratic set up, it is never the body vested with power to rule over the public in a ruthless and, to a great extend, unruly manner.
At such a point, it is almost impossible to end the Maoist menace without changing people’s mindset about the government, police and politicians and making them feel that the government as a whole is people’s government to look after their all-round development and let them live peacefully. As an effort for realisation of these objectives, the government and so called mainstream society members should work to minimise socio-economic disparity, generate adequate employment opportunities and bring the general livelihood costs to the minimum level in order to achieve the one point goal of putting a check to the entry of Indian youth into the radical groups. The pace of development must be faster and visible in the backward and tribal populated districts to open up opportunities for the youth in particular and the communities in general to earn their livelihood.
The administrative machinery has to come out of the imperialist British fashion and be responsible to play a greater role. Everyone representing the government at any level should act friendly to people who are innocent, needy and in the struggle for survival. Once the development goals are realised, people would feel themselves an essential part of Indian democracy and the support base of naxalites or Maoists would most possibly go thinner towards vanishing. This would also reap more and better results for the government than what it has achieved so far by deployment of huge police force to restore peace on gun points.