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Naxalite Movement:NO SHORT CUTS TO SOLUTION, by T.D. Jagadesan, 23 July 2007 Print E-mail

Events And Issues

New Delhi, 23 July 2007

Naxalite Movement


By T.D. Jagadesan

News about Naxalites attack on a police station or a jail or an electric substation etc appears to be making it the front pages of national dailies routinely every month. Is the Government concerned? Where is it heading? A careful analysis suggests that the Naxalite movement appears to have been a triumph and a tragedy. Triumph in the sense that a movement, which started in 1967 from a small village at the tri-junction of India, Nepal and what is now Bangladesh, has today spread across roughly 150 districts in 14 States of the country.  

It has been a tragedy in that an ideology, which was questioned even at the first party Congress of Naxalites in 1970, was almost reiterated at the ninth Congress held in early 2007.  The Naxalite leaders are caught in a time warp. They are parroting the same jargon, the same convoluted arguments and the same ideological abracadabra which they did in the 70s.

The Naxalites talk of “Indian expansion: If India were truly an expansionist power, what is today Bangladesh would have been a part of India.” In fact, India’s frontiers have been shrinking. We have lost a good chunk of territory to China and conceded PoK to Pakistan. The Naxalites support the separatist struggles in Jammu and Kashmir and in the North-East. If India had a leader like Mao, whom the Naxalites adore, the separatist and secessionist groups would have stream-rolled into submission.

The Naxalite campaign to annihilate class enemies has also gone completely haywire. Over 90 per cent of the people killed by the Naxalites today belong to the very classes whose cause they pretended to champion. Kanu Sanyal, one of the architects of Naxalbari, recalling his visit to China and the advice given by Mao, said in an interview: “Whatever you learn in China, try to forget it. Go to your own country to understand the specific situation and carry the revolution forward”.

The Naxalites have not learnt this simple lesson. They must understand that any movement out of sync with the thinking and aspirations of the majority is unlikely to make much headway beyond a certain point. They have yet to give an impression of patriotic commitment to the country.  They are, according to the Home Ministry working in close coordination with certain terrorist outfits, maintaining links with the LTTE, and have a nexus with the ULFA. Does that not amount to treason?

In the meantime, the Naxalite movement has acquired devastating capabilities with the party possessing about 6,500 weapons, including AK-47 rifles and SLRs. Some recent incidents demonstrated their capacity to overwhelm the State apparatus in a particular area: Koraput district headquarters in Orissa was overrun in 2001; Jehanabad prison in Bihar was attacked and its prisoners freed in 2005; Udayagiri town of Orissa was overrun in 2006; 55 policemen were killed in an attack in Rani Bodli village of Chattisgarh in March 2007. No less a person than the Prime Minister of India acknowledged Naxalism as the greatest threat to the internal security of the country.

The Naxalites may claim that the spread of the movement shows their ideology is well conceived and their tactic is sound. Their success is actually to be attributed to two factors. One, the basic factors responsible for the origin and growth of the movement have not been addressed by the powers-that-be. Poverty continues to be endemic. The spectre of unemployment haunts a large mass of youth. Governance is riddled with corruption.

Tribals have been getting a raw deal. People aggrieved on any of these counts often gravitate towards the Naxalities, who hold out the promise of fighting for their cause.  Two, the Government has no strategic plan to deal with the problem. Every time there is a major incident, Government spokesmen say that public order is a State subject and it is for State Governments to deal with the problem.

The Naxalites would be deluding themselves if they think that the soundness of their ideology or tactic has carried them so far. The Indian State can pack enormous punch once it makes up its mind. It did that in Punjab, where one of the world’s deadliest terrorist movements was vanquished.

What is the way out? The Naxalites must realize that they can never achieve their dream of what they call a “New Democratic Revolution” through protracted warfare. They are just playing with the lives of the poor and deprived sections of society. On the other hand, the Government must understand that a movement which draws its strength from genuine grievances of the people cannot be stamped out.

Militarily, it may be subdued as happened twice before in the past -- once after the arrest of Charu Mazumdar and again after the eclipse of Kondapally Seetharamaiah. But, like a phenoix, it has risen again. A long-term solution lies in an honest attempt to address the basic causes arising out of poverty, land alienation, unemployment, corruption, displacement of tribals and poor governance.

True, these problems cannot be solved overnight or even in five or 10 years. But if the State could at least give an impression that their severity is being mitigated every year, that itself would go a long way in building confidence among the people.  Unfortunately, the impression is that the problems are getting aggravated with every passing year. And perhaps that is the principal reason why Naxalism continues to spread in ever-widening circles. ---INFA

(Copyright, India News and Feature Alliance)


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