Just when India is starting to come to terms with Pakistan-based external security threats, with massive revamps in the law and order machinery to corrode them, a new menace has arisen, like a sudden fear of a nightmare, that has been stirred from the depths of memory. In 2006 Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called it “The single biggest internal security challenge ever faced by our country.” In 2009 he said the country was “losing the battle against it.” Indeed, the Naxal (Maoist) menace will be one of the biggest challenges faced by those in power in Delhi. The statement issued by Union Home Secretary, G.K.Pillai, on the 6th of march, regarding Maoist intentions of taking over the Indian polity by 2050, sent a chill down the spine in several political and media circles. Soon afterwards, Maoist commander Koteshwara Rao a.k.a. Kishenji issued a statement rubbishing the one by G.K.Pillai; he brought down the bar of state-takeover to even before 2050. Do incidents like the recent Silda Massacre and the well remembered Lalgarh “Liberation” vindicate his claim? What makes him so confident of success? Who are these people, these people who have made the sleep of so many bureaucrats and politicians less sound? Why are thousands of people in the Maoist Red Corridor reeling in fear of brutal murders, abductions, assaults, robberies and explosions?
Naxalites or Indian Maoists trace back their origins to Charu Majumdar and Kanu Sanyal, who led a peasant-revolt against landlords in the village of Naxalbari(which gives the movement its name), West Bengal, in 1967. Severely influenced by Maoism, Majumdar broke up from the parent Communist Party of India(Marxist). Marxism, intends to give power to the masses through mass demonstrations by the labour class, people of the industries. But, the Mao Zedong model of communism, Maoism, was severely dependent on the participation of impoverished peasants of the fields, in an armed revolt against the state. This is what Charu Majumdar capitalised in 1967, when he inflamed the peasantry of Naxalbari to revolt against the social dissensions that existed in the village.It was there that the cancer of Maoism took birth in India.
But this form of Maoism, like so many things Indian, was the Indian improvisation of the prototype, as it garnered support of the student and intellectual sections of the society in addition to the peasantry. As such, there was violence in several university campuses across India, particularly West Bengal.
But, the initial excitement of Maoism remained for a very little time. Within a matter of a few years(the 1970s) the initial Maoist uprising was quelled by excellent police-work and lack of popular support to its cause, which was indeed the result of the Naxalite movement’s violent path.
The second phase of the Maoist uprising (the late 1980s and 1990s) was seen in Andhra Pradesh(in the Telangana region) with the Maoists flaunting their banners against the rot in the system, inspiring hundreds of youth to join their movement. That period saw the deaths of hundreds of civil servants, particularly policemen. This time, the Maoists actually gained support from locals, who gave them their support more out of desperation than choice.
But, the movement largely came to a halt during the AP government mediated peace talks in the early part of this century.
Finally, what we see now is a far more violent phase of Maoist uprising in India than the previous ones, as it is an armed struggle against not one, but a variety of issues confronting the future of our nation, it is a struggle against the bonds of our very history, against the social, casteist and monetary inequalities that are rampant in our country; it is a struggle against corporate capitalism, against the rot in the system, against the very system; it is a struggle for forest land ownership and it hates the entry of civilisation into it. Mao would turn in his grave if he knew that his ideology has almost reached the pinnacle of evolution, in India. Peasants,landless labourers, armed goons looking for a purpose in life, opportunistic politicians looking for power, tribals from the forests of Chattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Jharkhand, Bihar and West Bengal, which form the Maoist Sphere of Influence, the Red Corridor, many students, who are willing to give up their studies, certain intellectuals, who form a soft face of the Maoists to the media, several NGOs and Human rights groups have now become a part of the Maoist rout, which threatens to topple the very system like a giant wave bringing down the very foundations of a building.
The Maoist movement almost threatens to be a movement against development, as it is doctrined to be against corporate expansion to the villages. It is also a struggle against the utilisation and proper management of natural resources, as it uses the cloak of forest land encroachment to garner the support of tribals.
This time the Maoists are back with a hate for the system like never before. Last year and the beginning of this one have seen more deaths due to Maoist violence in India than in any other year. The assassination attempt on West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee , the Lalgarh assault, abduction and execution of several government officials, the blowing up of arterial railway lines, the Silda Massacre and several similar perpetrations vindicate their resolve.
As such the Union government has launched a massive, coordinated and holistic strike on the Maoists called ‘Operation Green Hunt’ to pluck the Menace out of its roots.
Whether Kishenji is a man of his words or whether the system weathers the storm unleashed by him, only time will tell.