Dialogue  April-June, 2010, Volume 11 No. 4

Editorial Perspective


Naxalism: Politicians and Intellectuals continue to be selfish and confused

       Following two serious attacks in Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh by the Maoists on April 6 and May 17, the Union Home Minster P. Chidambaram is under attack both from the politicians and the liberals and intellectuals. In the first incident 76 CRPF personnel lost their lives and in the second one 35 persons including 15 SPO’s and the civilians were killed. Across the spectrum allegation is that the strategy of the Home Minister of primacy to security approach has failed and we should get back to the “root cause” route of dialogue and development.

   The problem is made complicated due to (i) convergence of self-interests of various over-ground interest group and (ii) the lack of proper understanding of the real face and objectives of the Maoists in the country. Confused politicians and liberals thus dignify a nihilistic ideology which is out-of-date and not in cynch with Indian and democratic ethos. Main problem is that the liberals equate the just grievances of the tribals and the marginalised with the political objectives of the Maoists and that the Maoists are fighting for the cause of the deprived. They are not. They are only using their grievances to encadre them and use them. The self declared objective of the Maoists is to bring about a New Democratic Revolution (NDR) with People’s Protracted War. Azad, the spokesperson of the Maoist in interview (Hindu April 14, 2010), has made it clear that offer of dialogue is only tactical and in no circumstance are they going to compromise on the NDR. Besides, the Maoist movement is neither a tribal movement nor is it led by tribals and the deprived. It is not about development, it’s about political power. At the same time the Government must accept that the responsibility of neglect of the marginalized.has enabled the Maoists to exploit a section of them. Of course, a large section of the people giving the impression of being with them are only due to the fear of gun.  

     Now as regards the allegations of failure it must be understood that we have allowed the malaise to fester for nearly a decade and acquire a menacing proportion. It happened because of confused thinking that they are “misguided brethren”. It will take considerable time to effectively deal with it. Home Minister’s statements and new policy formulations to deal with it strictly, have been taken to mean action. Direction is right; it only requires strategic and tactical adjustments on the way and a will which can take setbacks in its stride. It will take years to be effective. For the earlier results, at least the mischievous acts of (i) politicians, who are soft on the Maoists keeping an eye on deriving latter’s help in elections and (ii) left intellectuals’ propaganda establishing Naxals that they are fighting for just cause, must be countered. 

    Those who advocate “root cause” and development panacea, to deal with the problem, do not say how to do it in Maoist dominated areas, without neutralizing them. Shri Digvijay Singh, former CM of M.P. and now Gen. Secy. of AICC, has stated (CNN-IBN, May 17) that Maoist leaders cannot be described as terrorists and they are misguided ideologues, and that the root cause must be addressed. He was the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh for 10 years, when this problem in Bastar festered and acquired roots. Why did he not attend to the “root cause” then? Had be done it, we would  not be tackling the problem now. It is because root cause is only an excuse and not the real reason. The menace requires a bipartisan response and not confused signals. Nothing gladdens the heart of Maoist leadership than the confusion they succeed in generating in media, civil society and even in political parties.   

     Only patience, political will/determination and a bipartisan approach will succeed. Those who are unnerved by the present upsurge in Maoist violence will only help its cause. At the moment one point agenda of the Maoists is to get the offensive against it across the states called off. It will be a folly to fall in the trap because of a few serious incidents of Maoist violence. It calls for strategic and tactical adjustments in the operations and not retreat. Simultaneously, the message, that the Government shall take care of their grievances and not victimize them, must go to the people.       

Th. Muivah episode: Government of India blunders again

     The way govt. of India has handled the issue of Th. Muivah’s visit to his native village Somdal in Ukhrul district.of Manipur, is the bench-mark of how things should not be done, and the administrative naivette. A simple administrative issue has been allowed to fester into contentious political problem. The consequences of this lapse have been serious and some may last longer than we assume. Four persons have died in police firing on Nagaland Manipur border, and the Manipur state is under economic blockade (not for the first time) from various Naga bodies led by the Naga Students Federation over the issue of refusal of the Manipur Government to allow Muivah’s visit apprehending law & order problem and political unrest as NSCN (IM) under Muivah is agitating to include Manipur’s Naga inhabited districts in greater Nagaland or Nagalim.

      Muivah and his supporters immediately went into sulk claiming that government of India/ PMO had assured to take Muivah to his village and must do it. Govt. of India immediately got into the act, sent its Home Secretary and Interlocutor to persuade Muivah to postpone his visit in view of refusal of Manipur Government Muivah claims that he has deferred his visit in view of request from the PMO, but holds Governmentt. of India (GoI) responsible for arranging his visit.

     Administratively, Muivah’s proposed visit to Somdal was a private visit except that he had been accorded a Z+ security cover in Delhi. He is in dialogue with government of India as representative of NSCN (IM). If he wants to visit his village, it’s a matter between Muivah and Manipur Government to permit him, not to permit him or regulate his entry, etc. If Muivah has any grievance he can take recourse to legal remedies and approach the court of law against the Manipur Government’s decision. We routinely prevent. Imam Bukhari and Hindu religious leaders from visiting areas during communal tension. In Kashmir, the secessionist leaders are prevented or put to house arrest on grounds of public order.

     It is not understood how GoI comes in the picture. Interlocutor’s role is connected with ongoing negotiations and dialogue and not as a facilitator of visits of individuals. Home Secretary will now be expected to intervene every time a Sadhvi or a Maulana is prevented from visiting communally sensitive areas. Stark reality is that GoI has tied itself into knots, and walked into a minefield fully knowing the sensitivities of the Manipur Government over the issue. Besides sending a wrong political message, it’s now burdened with dealing with an economic blockade which will alienate Manipuris more and further embitter Meitei and Naga relations. Sooner the govt. of India distances itself from this self-inflicted folly better. The GoI will also have to think as to how long the state of Manipur will be held to ransom by  this kind of economic blockade on one pretext or the other, including refusal to pay tax to the underground? This aspect should concern GoI more than visit of individuals to their birth places.         

 Return to Pre-partition British Agenda

     It was difficult for the national leaders in pre-partition days to counter the British agenda of ‘Divide and Rule’ and yet they endeavoured to do the same; at least they understood the British game; tried to keep their folk together. It is, however, an altogether different matter that they could not succeed and the country was divided. After independence, there was change in the political culture of the country and that in the objectives and modus-operandi of the political parties. Mass mobilization, as the Congress did under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi, gave way to group/caste mobilization. People-centric politics became chair-centric. Saddest part of the recent development is that our national politics, now, is trying to cross the ‘Lakshman-rekha’. It is back to reviving the pre-partition agenda of the British for their short-term political gains. The casualness in doing so is frightening.

    Caste in the present form and untouchability, as it existed half a century earlier, is a post-Turk phenomenon in India, as attested by al-Beruni. We had only four castes (four endogamous varnas) a millennium earlier, when he came to India, and all the four dined together at the same place. The numerous shrenis/guilds gradually converted themselves from exogamous units to become endogamous castes. The life-style of all the varnas and shrenis in India, as attested by our classical literature/epics, was simple and non-exploitative. There was practically no bar on education and every community attended the traditional schools. The social reality about the same has come out in the scholarly works of Dharmapal.

     The British used ‘Census of India’ for the nefarious game to divide Indian society. The Church, for obvious reason, was the willing partner in that game. Their first attempt was to divide castes and tribes. Then they tried to insert wedge between the caste groups. Thus the Caste Census, conducted in 1931, when Irwin was Viceroy. Indian politics, finding political use of the caste and communal divide, secured the nod of the GoI to revive the pre-partition colonial agenda, such as Caste Census and opening branches of Aligarh Muslim University.  

                                                                                                                                                                                                              — B.B. Kumar

Dialogue (A quarterly journal of Astha Bharati)

                                               Astha Bharati