Naxalism: What the Citizens, Locals and the Sages say [Part 2 of 5]

Posted on May 20, 2010 in Politics

Abhirup Bhunia:

Naxals have been accused of waging war against the nation. They do not accept the Indian constitution. They promulgate anti-India, anti-government sentiments. India finds itself in a very complex situation, thus. The Naxals have gone on to ambush those whom they claim to be working for — the poor civilians confusing things further. Some call them plain terrorists, some show commiseration towards them. It is a war and everybody has an opinion.

The locals, who live in the jungles or the red corridors, as it is eloquently dubbed, are the ones who matter. They bear the brunt of it all. They face the Maoist firing as well as the police bullet. Caught in the crossfire, these people themselves stand for a sharply divided opinion. Not all locals support the Maoists — they are disconcerted by them and want to get rid of their clutches. However, there is this significant group of villagers or tribals who endorse the Maoists. The Naxals engage in vast recruitment drives wherein locals are signed up, trained to wage war and instructed to take up arms. These are the ones who believe the state has deserted them and fancy a befitting vengeance. Yet others who are the misguided youth are brainwashed into taking on the government. And some depend on the Naxals for salary. “We are confused… we are caught in between, normal life has eluded us for long,” a local tribal said to a private news channel. And he represented a batch of likeminded tribals. Hence, there is full divide among the locals themselves wherein some support the Naxals and some detest them. Such massive warfare cannot be undertaken without financial support. It is, therefore, open secret that the Naxals are funded, either by them who empathize with the Maoists, or by them who are forced to pay up sums or are extorted from. (Let’s discount the information that police have been charged of providing ammunition to them as well)

“It is imperative that massive development takes place. Look at them! Doesn’t the look in the eyes express they have been dispossessed and deprived for decades?” questioned an octogenarian retired professor of English. “What have been the government doing? Isn’t the administration to blame? Why do these tribals have so much to complaint about?” Those gusty interrogations from the veteran wafted at me blow by blow. Arundhati Roy, the booker winning authoress and a noted thinker, has come out in open supporting the cause of Naxalism, however maintaining that bloodbath is condemnable. Thus, there are sections in the well-off society and the literati too, who clearly are of the opinion that today’s hazard is a result of yesterday’s neglect and indifference shown by the government towards the welfare of tribals. Due to the conviction that only the pick of the bunch gets to taste the fruit of economic and social development and that utter deprivation due to no fault of theirs have been meted out to them, the tribals have armed themselves. There are theories that the Nepal Maoists provide material support to the Indian Naxalite movement. There are concerns that political parties have had indirect influence in this mutiny. The intellectuals of the nation have repeatedly professed their compassion for the cause. Human right activists have created an uproar each time police ‘atrocities’ in the red corridors are reported while maintaining that violence unleashed by Naxals are equally to be denounced. “They are ruthless terrorists who don’t even stop short of killing innocents and deserve to be ousted by state force,” said a doctor under Central Government Health Scheme. “Our forces need to gear up,” she added.

Winning over the locals, however, is been said to be the only way forward by many. Political commentators have said that development should take place immediately. Very recently, historian Ramachandra Guha along with notable academicians including professor of sociology in Delhi University, Nandini Sundar, wrote to the government that an all out war against the Maoists isn’t going to take India to a position any better. “Things have gone out of hand now. Wish the revengeful blood flowing in them could be drained out,” said an active student politician, Nilanjan. So its desperation and call for unconditional ceasefire on the other hand. MJ Akbar, the reputed commentator is of the opinion that poverty be ruled if India is to endure insurgency and come out strong. Operation green hunt has been receiving criticism from different quarters repeatedly, making it imperative for the government to rethink over and over again. Thus, India is in disagreement as far as their thoughts on Naxalism are concerned, and apropos strategies to tackle Maoism, people of India have represented different schools of thought and an assortment of outlooks. There is, thus, no fixed viewpoint of India per se. Values, thinking and subsequently opinions differ heavily.

For strategies of the government and analysis of what went wrong, watch this space for the next article in this ongoing series on Naxalism.

Follow the complete series here.