Dialogue April-June, 2005, Volume 6 No. 4
Naxalism, like all other major problems the country faces today, defies solution. We published a special issue of this journal with focus on ‘Maoist Insurgency in Nepal and India’ during October-December 2002. This issue attempts at repeat focus on the problem.
Presently, 76 districts of nine states – Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhatisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal – are, more or less, afflicted with this problem. Communist Party Marxist Leninist – Peoples Wargroup (CPML-PW) and Maoist Communist Centre (MCC-I) have been trying to extend their influence and operations in newer areas of the afflicted states and in parts of Tamilnadu, Karnataka and Kerala. CPML-PW leaders announced on October 14, 2004 the merger of the above-mentioned two outfits into the single one, namely Communist Party of India (Maoist). This is, undoubtedly, going to strengthen them.
According to the Annual Report (2004-05) of the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, the Naxalites have an assessed strength of 9,300 hardcore underground cadres holding around 6,500 regular weapons besides a large number of unlicensed country-made arms. Due to the peace talks between the Andhra Pradesh Government and the Naxal outfits, the quantum of violence significantly declined in that state last year. But there was no appreciable overall change in the violence at the country level. There were 1,533 incidents leading to 566 deaths due to Naxalite activities in the country during 2004 as compared to 1,597 incidents and 515 deaths during 2003. There were 1,208 incidents and 564 deaths during 2001 and 1465 incidents and 482 deaths in 2002 due to the same in the country. During January 2005, there were 195 incidents and 48 deaths. It may be pointed out that the CPI-Maoist and Jana Shakti leaders unilaterally announced their withdrawal from the peace talks and ceasefire in Andhra Pradesh on January 17, 2005 snapping the peace process started seven months earlier.
The Government is following multi-pronged strategy to tackle Naxal violence, which includes peace dialogue, strengthening of administrative machinery to make it more responsive, transparent and sensitive to enable effective redressal of public grievances and improved delivery mechanism aimed at accelerated integrated development including enhanced employment opportunities in the affected areas; building up of local capabilities of intelligence gathering and sharing and training and well-equipping the police force. As the problem is not considered to be only of law and order; attempts are made to tackle it on political, social, economic and security fronts. The measures initiated/taken to tackle the problem include review of Naxal violence by the Coordination Centre, intelligence sharing, deployment of the Central Police Force, Raising of India Reserve (IR) Battalions, training and modernization of the State Police Force and financial assistance by the Central Government for meeting security expenditure and for integrated development of the Naxal affected States. The possession, sale and use of nitro-glycerine (NG)-based explosives have been banned throughout the country since April 2004. The affectivity and success of these measures are, however, yet to be seen.
Indian Naxalites are attempting to carve out a Compact Revolutionary Zone (CRZ) from Nepal through Bihar, Jharkhand and Chhatisgarh region in eastern part of the country. Their linkages with the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) are well established. Exchange of men and materials between them, their joint meetings, extension of military training camp facilities and shelter for CPN (Maoist) leaders/cadres in Indian cities are well-known facts. Apart from their link with CPN-M, Indian Naxalite outfits have many other extra-regional fraternal links with the communist outfits and extra-fraternal links with the organizations like ISI and LTTE. Their networking with secessionist terrorist organizations like ULFA, NSCN (IM), gives another dimension to the problems of internal and external security of this country.
Jan Adalats (People’s Courts) of the Naxalites deliver instant justice, and at a time entail inhuman harsh punishments. They kill citizens, branding them ‘police informers’. As the followers of the ‘murder manual’ of Charu Majumdar, violence has been integrated in their thinking, cult and action. They barbarically kill innocent men, women and children. Even CPI (ML) leader, Vinod Mishra labeled one of their factions ‘madhya-yugin katilon ka samuh’ (medieval band of murderers). Thus the Naxalites act both as the actors and promoters of violence, terror and anarchy.
The Naxalites/Maoists receive support, strength and sustenance from many unexpected corners. They routinely give boycott call during Parliament and the State Assembly elections. This, however, does not prevent them from helping the candidates of various political parties in winning elections and receiving money and patronage from them. Business-Naxal links enable them to receive huge funds. Apart from occasional sloganeering, Naxalites never posed any danger for the monopolist capitalists, who thrived during ‘License-Permit Raj’. They professed to support nationalist capitalists. The largest number of people falling prey to Maoist violence in India have been poorest of the poor of this country. They include SCs/STs, marginal and small farmers and persons serving in the lowest cadres of the police force. By dividing the poorest and most disadvantaged ones of this country, the Maoists have taken away anti-Capitalist and anti-privileged heat from this country. This has endeared them to the Capitalists. Dainik Hindustan (Hindi daily) of the Indian capitalist, Birla published an editorial entitled ‘Comrade Vinod Mishra Lal Salam’, when Vinod Mishra, General Secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist), Liberation died. Liberation got maximum coverage in this paper. Capitalist run print media has given maximum employment to the Maoist journalists.
After every Naxalite killing our leading intellectuals, scholars, writers, social analysts, journalists, commentators and politicians routinely and customarily contend and repeat pointing towards our failure to address land reforms and the land question as the root cause of the problem. They join the chorus and provide justification of the Maoist violence and insurgency; base their explanation on ‘exploitation of landless labourers by landlords’ or the former’s desire for land or better wages or man-samman (social respectability). The question is: should murder be allowed on any ground? And if so, then what about rule of law and constitutional propriety? Again, a careful perusal of the Maoist literature shows that such facts are missing in Indian Maoist literature. Their ultimate declared aim for which the Maoists indulge in armed struggle is to capture political (state) power and to herald, what they call, a new democratic revolution (NDR) and not for land or wages or man-samman, as asserted by the Leftist intellectuals and journalists. The Indian intelligentsia has been successful in giving respectability to the Naxalites and to confuse the entire nation about them.
Naxalism has given respectability to the criminals. Naxalites levy taxes on forest contractors, operate illegal mines and sale kendu leaves, etc. They got about rupees thirty crore annually from these sources from only two districts of Jharkhand – Palamu and Garhwa – a few years ago. They also get huge money through extortion from contractors, corrupt officials and others. The road construction and other development activities are highly retarded in the Naxal infested areas due to their extortionist design. Needless to say that the poor people suffer the most due the anti-development activities of the Maoists. Thus, contrary to the popular perception, Maoists harm the poorest most.
The Naxalism suffers from many inner contradictions. Their idol is Mao. Whereas Mao is a nationalist, our Maoists are anti-national, who target India for balkanization. They support Kashmiri, Naga and other secessionist outfits; establish links with them to destabilize India. They are blind towards China’s activities in Tibet and elsewhere, but label India as semi-colonial and semi-feudal.
Maoist insurgency sustains itself due to inept and inconsistent handling of the problem. Central and the State Governments have failed to break all sorts of nexus, including Maoist-politician nexus, and to plug illegal flow of money to the Maoists. We need to have political will and above all the political honesty to end the menace. At the same time, Governments should ensure that genuine grievances of the people are solved without loss of time so that they do not fall prey to Maoist propaganda and follow them. The fact that the Maoists are able to get support, despite their antiquated ideological formulations, is also a reflection on the quality and content of the politics and delivery system of the governance at the cutting edge level – meant for the poor and marginalised. Evidently, there is a need for an inclusive political response. There is also need of adequate academic/intellectual input to clear the confusion and haziness created by a section of our intelligentsia. Only then, the strategy and measures taken by the Governments may succeed.