By Rishin Mukherjee:
A lot of social issues are presently marring the complete development of India. These include gender inequality, reservations, and many more. However, when one considers the amount of bloodshed and damage in terms of lives lost, none of the other issues come close to Naxalism.
Naxalism is one of the major problems that is plaguing parts of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal. This movement grew out of the Communist movement that gained a lot of popularity after the Independence. There were various effects of Communism on the Indian society, but Naxalism that grew out of it was perhaps the biggest curse that Communism brought to rural India. This movement mainly started off when the major leaders of the Communist party, after being elected to the legislative assemblies, could not live up to the expectations of the rural peasant classes. The word “NAXAL” in itself is derived from a village called Naxalbari in the state of West Bengal where the movement can trace its origins to. Naxalites at present may be best described as a non-political entity — which is not afraid of armed struggle and one that derives its members from the tribal and peasant classes. Their struggle to get their demands met and their armed revolt against exploitation has made them extremely popular across India amongst the uneducated and backward tribal classes and the movement has now spread across India. At present, estimates say that there are almost 20,000 cadres, and this huge number of armed cadres has led the Prime Minister to declare ‘Naxalism’ as the single biggest internal threat to India.
Enormous amount of innocent blood has been shed in this war over the years, and yet Naxalites have not been able to get their demands met or indeed make the government see their point of view. The security forces like the CRPF and the Indian Army has lost many men because of ambush attacks and guerrilla warfare carried out by various Naxalite groups. It is also believed that many of the members are innocent villagers who have been forced to join the armed struggle against their will, or ones who have been shown a false light of hope by misleading leaders. Inflammatory speeches can be given against any administration; however, the gullible villagers fail to realize that joining this movement makes them criminals in the eyes of the law, and makes them a danger to their own society. This problem is one that is made complex by the rigidity of the rebels, for they are not ready to accept peaceful conferences with representatives of the government. It has also been seen that the politicians have played with the emotions of the tribal classes with false promises for their personal benefits and this has forced the rural masses to join the Naxalite movement. Although, a large section of this mass does not approve of the armed struggle that the Naxalites are leading, and are in fact shocked and repelled by some of the atrocities of the Naxalites.
This issues is one that cannot be resolved until there are proper political influences over the rural uneducated masses so that they can be brought into talks with the government, it also requires a central leadership that is patient and one that is willing to accept all talks with an open mind. Policies that are present cannot be changed overnight; however, reforms for the upliftment of the tribal and peasant classes can be brought in, which may help the government gain the trust of the Naxalites. The Naxalites must themselves be ready to surrender their arms and have faith in legislative methods, accepting surrender agreements that they are offered.