A Frontier Editorial |Vol. 49, No.1, Jul 10 – 16, 2016
The news that ‘naxalism will be rooted out soon’ is totally fascinating, if not frightening. That is Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh. He doesn’t stop there. He goes a step further as he would be a bit philosophical to elaborate his idea of ‘Maoist Menace’. While addressing paramilitary units after inaugurating an administrative building, parade ground and other special police complexes in Ranchi, the redoubtable Mr Singh appreciated the Jharkhand Jaguar (Special Force) specifically created to combat naxalites. Mr Singh also hopes, perhaps against hope, that Jharkhand would be the first state to be freed of left-wing extremism among other Naxal-affected states. Strangely enough, he didn’t utter a word or two about Chattisgarh where Maoist guerilla warfare sometimes takes positional war despite massive induction of specially trained paramilitary forces armed with latest and sophisticated weapons.
They have been talking about eliminating ‘naxalism’ from India for long without offering any political solution to the problems that create ideological sustenance for the naxalites in the first place despite so many splits and setbacks in what they call protracted people’s war. The movement is just nearing 50th year. In truth all groups and naxalite factions including the major one—CPI (Maoist)—are gearing up to mark that occasion, hopefully to explore possibilities of unity and get rid of ideological wilderness they have been in for so long. In the same ‘police moral boosting meeting’ Mr Rajnath Singh said ‘Maoists were declining continuously in strength and their big groups had no capacity to work’. And yet they have been systematically creating one commando battalion after another, to tackle naxalites in all the so-called naxal-affected states. He regretted that the Special Infrastructure Scheme (SIS), yet another high-tech anti-naxalite plan had been stopped two years ago. Finally he urged the security establishment to keep watch on splinter naxalite groups. In other words he was actually asking his anti-naxalite squad leaders to divide the movement and pit one group against another. They always consciously try to destroy the solidarity from below because their sophisticated guns have so far failed to completely wipe out the 5-decade-old phenomenon called naxalism, albeit the original idea of naxalism has lost much of its relevance today, particularly against the backdrop of changing peasant question and revisionism in Indian communist movement.
On the one hand they continually dismiss the naxalites as a rising political entity but on the other hand the Singhs don’t miss any opportunity to mobilise public opinion against the naxalites. Their well orchestrated propaganda machine never loses any chance to portray them as blood-thirsty butchers having no political programme to radically change the oppressive conditions under which toilers are being forced to toil day in and day out and most vulnerable sectors of society face ever increasing sufferings.
After Chattisgarh, Jharkhand is high on their agenda as Mr Singh would laud the effort of Jharkhand Police Chief D K Pandey in successfully steering the anti-naxal campaign. Incidentally both Chattisgarh and Jharkhand are rich in mineral resources where global mining giants are coming in droves to aggravate tensions between the authorities and social movements, including the Maoist movement, that oppose limitless plunder of natural resources by foreign and domestic companies. The earlier colonialists—the British—too targeted these two specific regions but their capacity to exploit ‘good earth’ was limited. In Jharkhand most of the big mining enterprises still bear British name though ownership has long been passed into the hands of Indian banias. They have a plan to encircle rebels operating in Bihar and West Bengal while utilising Jharkhand as the base.
Tragically, 49 years later the naxalites are nowhere near the challenging scenario to take on anti-naxalite campaigners politically. The authorities themselves create myths and illusions about the reach of the Maoists and get trapped in their own web. They always underestimate their strength but get doubly panicked even if some ‘sophisticated’ arms are recovered from ‘Maoist hide-outs’. Maybe this sort of disclosure is a ploy to establish connections between North East insurgents and Maoist guerillas in Central India. But militants in North East India are not Marxists, not to speak of Maoists. Insurgency in North East is as old as independent Indian Republic, rooted in ethnicity. What is more, not all militant outfits are social revolutionaries. Many of these groups were created by the intelligence department of Government of India to keep them mired in a crippling fratricidal conflict forever to crush their national aspiration from within.
Whenever they want to step up anti-naxal operations under the specious signboard of ‘Operation Green Hunt’ or something else they discover links between NE insurgents and Maoists. Luckily they have not yet made any attempt to ‘unearth’ any links between IS and Maoists. But one day they can do that if their enhanced and modernised paramilitary operations against left-wing extremism fail to produce reassuring results.
The point at issue is the Maoists have so far failed to convince boarder masses that they are not against development, rather sustainable development. As for climatic and ecological damage that causes displacement and natural hazards, they have no workable plan and programme. They want to convey everything through guns which becomes counter productive in most cases.
For one thing naxalism is not Maoism. Nor does it end in senseless violence as the Rajnath Singhs would like to demonstrate before the wider public. The legacy of naxalism is carried by more than a dozen groups that don’t reduce everything to guerilla warfare. But the Singhs have put the entire naxalite movement on trial.
What is needed in the naxalite camp is new beginnings in thought and action. What is needed from the camp otherwise splintered in so many small groups, is initiating not as party to lead but as radical idea to raise new banners of freedom and emancipation.