Dialogue  October-December, 2009 , Volume 11 No. 2


External Support to Maoists


Shankar Sharan*



There was a time Indian Maoists used to get support from Red China. That they still do, though now less for any fraternal ideological feelings than for being fit for the anti-India strategy of the current Chinese rulers. In addition, for some time they are getting very active material and moral support from some Wetern quarters. Not otherwise known for being lovers of the Mao thoughts, various Missionary and Human Rights organizations, sometimes overlapping each other in functional profile, are prominently helping Indian Maoists. 

     Through their own overt and covert campaign and a well orchestrated propaganda, with due coordination with a section of our English media, especially with those journalists who are basically political activists and journalism is only a useful means for their work, they try to put the Indian state at defensive in its fight against the Maoist menace. This is a serious development to which our awareness is not at all adequate. The Home Minister P Chidambaram is right in telling that the Maoist threat was “underestimated” for many years. What he did not mention is that such underestimation was also a calculated result of sustained efforts of a well-connected group of activist intellectuals occupying high chairs in academia, media and administration.

    The annual report of the home ministry for 2008-09, released last July said that a total of 3,338 persons were killed in 7,806 incidents of naxal violence which took place in Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Karnataka from 2004 to 2008. If we go back calculating to the late1960s and early1970s since the Maosists started their ‘class war’ on the Indian people, killing some hapless policemen, vice-chancellors, petty politicians and a large number of farmers and villagers for being ‘class enemy’, the victims of Maoist murders may cross many hundred thousand all over the country.

     Any dispassionate evaluation of such crimes, even considering its professed goal to build socialism under the China’s Chairman being “our Chairman”, point to a pathetic result. Other than killing for killing sake and destroying economic, educational and administrative infrastructure of different areas in the country nothing much could be shown as their achievement. By any comparison the overall condition of people in Maoist activity areas in these decades have gone down. In contrast areas free from Maoists of the country progressed in many ways.

    Meanwhile many bright young boys and girls lost their precious years or life itself in search of some romantic class war. A war which has been fought, won and ultimately lost by itself in different countries after consuming millions of people and realizing its total futility from the very beginning. That such an unprecedented experiment in socio-political transformation was carried out in several continents with exactly similar horrible results should have been a lesson to Indian educated classes. But, sadly, we saw an upsurge of communist influence in Indian polity at an age when Marxism-Leninism-Stalinism and Maoism were thoroughly discredited on the world stage.

      How and why it happened? The answer is a combination of multiple failures, not only on the part of a Nehru regime which had a soft corner for communist formulations and verbiage, which also tried to emulate Soviet Union and Red China in one or another  aspect.  But the failure was as well on the part of non-left and non-Congress political classes who never actually fully comprehended the reality of existing communist systems, its international propaganda and machinations in different countries. These two failures provided a helpful ground in India for all kind of communist groupings to work freely, without facing a concerted effort from opposing political groupings.

    Therefore, when the central polity became fragmented in the late 1980s, and an era of all kind of coalitions or seeming coalitions arrived, the communist groups used this opportunity to the hilt. As it is by their very nature of being more or less ideological fanatic, more caring for their political goals than personal sinecures, they got an image of being superior in character, intellectual appearance and determination. Such a group, even small in number, was of immense help to non-communist groups vying for power at the Centre. The leaders of many such groups had no other goal whatsoever other than being the Prime Minister or Rail Minister. They come in handy for ruthless communist leaders who had little personal ambition but to control Indian polity by hook or crook.

     V P Singh, for instance, had not for nothing famously said around 1987 that the communists were his ‘natural allies’. He soon became a Prime Minister with communist support. Even though the communist parties did not join the Union Cabinet, they saw to capture levers of educational, policy making bodies under the very government. Through such a great leverage and financing system they helped their own cadre and party machinery building. In a time when other parties fought for ministries and lucrative positions, the communist activists and sympathizers entrenched themselves in high academic, media and policy making panels. Once there, in the typical communist style world over, they made such bodies their sole preserve by willfully excluding or neutralizing non-left candidates and functionaries. By their undeviating ‘political mindedness’ and organized and synchronized actions they silently won several rounds of what Antonio Gramchi had called ‘war of positions’.

       We would be greatly erring by not recognizing the cumulative effect of this development of the last two decades. Only by giving due credit to this invisible power holding group scattered in high profile academic institutions, planning bodies, media, and civil and human rights NGOs can we properly assess the current situation in our country. A situation when any anti-India, anti-Hindu, anti-government action or campaign gets instant endorsement by a number of well stationed and well greased individuals and organizations. Individuals not only in non-government sector but in the government and semi-government bodies too.

    One has to be very knowledgeable of the current world political scenario to evaluate the actual damage done by a single District Magistrate, or a member of the this or that statutory government Commission, or just a handful of media correspondents or few eminent professors (how they became ‘eminent’ is also in many instances a result of factors other than scholarship) to any government in our country on a certain issue. In this globalised world a well connected attempt to tarnish the image of a government can be successful through a handful of individuals.

    It is not a great secret in the contemporary scenario that various foreign forces, powerful and resourceful, are active to influence the government policies in various sectors for their own national, selfish or other interests. In the age of economic liberalization, internet and multiple means of quick communication any powerful agency can act effectively in no time to obstruct a government decision or resolve. This is happening in various areas – from education to environment to sports – but in direct political management too. (The democratic system of this country provides them extra facility to use and misuse freedom of organization and expression, etc. which is not available in most Arab Islamic countries or China.)

       At this point the communist and various kind of left-leaning activists placed at various educational, media, NGO and administrative positions fit the bill as no other do. By their ‘internationalist’ outlook they are by definition not much enthusiastic patriots.  In other words, if an issue is made before them, they would least care for India’s national interests. Why, any cause presented in the garb of some proletarian, anti-imperialist, anti-Israel, pro-minority or human rights issue would be attractive enough for them to act upon! They would hardly wait to examine the real motives behind a campaign originated from or supported by some European, American, Arab, Pakistani or Chinese quarters. Besides, their own political idiosyncrasies and ideological conditioning over the decades have practically made them habitual anti-Hindus if not always anti-Indians.

      Which is why for a long time one can hardly find any international campaign against some Indian figure or policy in which a number of left-wing Indian activists have not actively collaborated. This is not at all a happenstance. Rather, by any simple research one can find the connecting links between our own radical activist, professor or correspondent and some foreign government or non-government agency purportedly working for some human right or similar cause. Such an agency is often an NGO making not very disguised front for a wealthy missionary organization or a powerful government.

    This is an essential backdrop to understand the European and Western support for captured Maoist operatives like Dr Binayak Sen or Kobad Ghandhy. On face value the support coming from various Western countries for quite an unknown doctor in a small place in India may look unexplainable. But the point is not his being a doctor but a political activist inimical to the Indian state. There lies his worth for foreign powers interested in weakening the progress or the strength of this country. Otherwise, one cannot find even a remote reason why a Catholic organization in Holland should be so much concerned for a godless communist in Raipur.

      After initial setbacks in early 1970s many Maoist and other left-wing activists joined various civil rights organizations active in our country. As it is, working in broad based social or political organizations to ‘capture’ it to further their own cause has been one of the oldest traits of communists all over the world. During the British period, Indian communists once tried to capture the Congress Socialist Party. In any case, joining the Peoples Union of Civil Liberties (PUCL) or Peoples Union of Democratic Rights (PUDR) kind of organization to use it for their political agenda is a relatively known aspect of communist activism in recent times. In fact with the passage of time some organizations have been fairly dominated by the communists. Binayak Sen himself is also the general secretary of the PUCL.

      It is true there were also genuine social activists, agonised over the plight of the poor, who joined the human rights and civil liberties groups. But for more conscious Leninist and Maoists political workers it was a far-sighted change of tack, since these bodies have been recognized as social service, not communist bodies, and generously funded by various humanitarian Europeans. Although in doing so the European attitude has frequently been to only show that India is a pathetic Third World country in perpetual need of Western charity. Be what it may, such foreign funded and socially respectable civil rights organizations gradually transformed into an arm of anti-India activism. With time, it became de facto service centres for every conceivable group that is waging war on the Indian state, especially the Hindu society. Today in the guise of protecting civil liberties or human rights, all kinds of radicals, Maoists, terrorists, Islamists and missionary proselytizers operate almost freely in India. Particularly the human rights organizations in this country are now mostly ideological covers for any group that wants disintegration of India.

      An indicator of this is the fact that almost the same bunch of high profile activists – educational, environmental, political, human rights, etc – becomes active in defense of a detained missionary engaged in illegal proselytization or a convicted Islamic terrorist or a Maoist leader. The same group takes a vigorous interest in supporting left-secular political alliances in elections and opposing nationalist politicians and organizations, especially those having greater attachment to indigenous thoughts and traditions. For instance, the same people who are currently campaigning for Binayak Sen were also agitating against the death sentence to Muhammad Afzal, the confirmed terrorist convicted for attacking the Parliament. Mind it: supporting a terrorist attacking no less a target than the Parliament, the supreme body of the country! The same bunch also, by and large, opposes Indian position on Kashmir and support Pakistan, in direct or round about way. These are all not innocent co-incidences. 

    The method of anti-India activism with powerful foreign backing becomes more apparent when we look into the various prizes and awards given by different international agencies to the very select group of left-leaning activists never missing a chance to besmirch the Indian state on any pretext. For the last ten years there is hardly a foreign prize, award or chair given to any Indian worthy who is not known for his rabid ‘anti-establishment’ political views and acts. Suffice it to mention that so far at least three Indians, well-known for being active Maoist supporters, have been awarded the Megasaysay Award, funded by the Rockfellor Foundation of the USA. Prizes by international Christian missionary organizations have also gone to Indian Marxists  and Maoists. Dr Binayak Sen also got one called ‘Jonathan Mann for Global Health and Human Rights’. 

       Only in this background one can correctly understand the contrived tear-jerking that is always witnessed in the English-language media over the arrest of a Binayak Sen or Kobad Ghandhy, an ideologue and Politburo member of the outlawed CPI(Maoist). Usually the arrest of a senior Maoist leader doesn’t lead to a news reporter shedding tears. But Ghandhy’s advantage was that besides being from a rich Mumbai family, educated at the Doon School, having lived in London in the 1970s, he was also a leading light of the human rights industry.

     We have to take note that the campaign to free Binayak Sen and Gnadhy begun in right earnest. In both cases international support came in heavy doses. In the English media they painted a halo around Sen and then Ghandhy, in a very similar way. How it became possible that several intellectuals from the European and American continents signed petitions calling for Sen’s release? There was an orchestrated campaign to lead the courts ordering his release on bail on compassionate grounds. We do not have to look far on who is batting for the Maoists and by which means. Half-truths, concealing vital facts, selective propaganda and quoting each other to establish a claim – these are the stock methods in defending a terrorist or a Maoist by the high profile activist groups.

     Binayak Sen is a case in point. Based in Raipur he has been a known Maoist supporter. He was arrested in 2007 and bail was refused him by all courts including the Supreme Court till recently when granted on ‘health grounds’. His lawyers in courts could not refute the charges against him about illegal activities of being a facilitator and conduit for Maoist conspiracies. But in the international campaign to free him he was painted just as ‘PUCL leader’, ‘doctor of poor’, ‘human rights activist’ etc. In December 2007 a bench of the Supreme Court rightly observed: how Sen’s being a PUCL leader or a doctor proved that he was not involved in the activities he was charged with?

     That is the point to mull over. All kind of radical activists engaged in various campaigns defend their covert political designs inimical to the Indian state by their overt personalities. In this endeavour they are significantly supported by foreign agencies. Bestowing awards and prizes and publicity given through lecture tours in foreign countries establish their reputation as big scholars and intellectuals. Such awards and media publicity make a Maoist or jihadi enthusiast a respectable figure fit for appointment in public commissions, academic bodies etc. For the last six-seven years all kinds of radical, leftist and activists of a distinct un-patriotic hue got positions in various national bodies.

    Then what happens? Being a ‘global citizen’, eschewing patriotism and speaking anti-India rhetoric on national and international forums becomes fashionable. Then it is easily repeated by Maoist and Islamist organizations in university campuses and on TV coverage. All this combined weaken the Indian state and society, slowly but definitely. As an observer noted, “The position of these activists in regard to national territory, the opinions they express in regard to Jammu and Kashmir, the kind of gibberish they speak on American and Pakistani soil about our jawans, is a cause of grave concern, because they are members of either the National Integration Council or of CABE or of the National Advisory Council”.

      One has to ask: how they manage to reach such positions? This is carefully managed by using our careless politicians and administrators, who little check the antecedents of a person forwarded for an academic or commission post. Foreign awards and media presence, often stage-managed by behind the scene hands, create a ruse, a kind of artificial personality out of a rabid anti-India activist. He or she then get onto a public office and says things destructive to Indian integrity. This avenue of capturing state funded positions to weaken the very state has been used for a long time by radical activists to further their anti-India political campaigns.

    We have to analyse the reasons why the ‘Free Binayak Sen Campaign’ was more or less entirely run by the ‘Peoples Watch’, an NGO which is almost wholly funded by the Dutch Catholic Organisation for Relief and Development. The same NGO is also most active in ‘Dalit liberation’ campaign, a euphemism for converting low caste Hindus into Christianity in an organized i.e. illegal way. The website of Peoples Watch itself reveals all this after a careful search. Thus, if a foreign funded missionary organization is so much interested in giving a free hand to a Maoist functionary in India, our security system must realize the under link joining the two. Otherwise we will never fully comprehend the reasons, strategy and effects of various NGO campaigns in our country highly visible in media for quite a long time.  

    Our sluggishness in not looking critically through such campaigns has gradually created a scary situation. As K P S Gill, the former chief of Punjab Police, noted with sad bitterness, “The anti-nationals in our country are respected, and nationalists are derided….  These days our country is fighting terrorism. But our so-called intellectuals have made efforts unparalleled in the history of the world to decry and deny our success in fighting terrorism”. It is high time we correct our intellectual sight. Otherwise the nuclear and technological capabilities, financial reserves and high sensex indicators would all fail to save the situation. As a veteran writer aptly asked: can an iron fence save the tree eaten at the roots by moths?


Dialogue A quarterly journal of Astha Bharati

Astha Bharati