The Blotch of Red – Understanding Naxalism’s Today and Tomorrow

By Bhavya

Naxal terrorism, today, tops the list of internal threats to national interests in India. Most of us have heard, or read about Naxalism and the Red Corridor, and thanks to the coverage it gets, most of us are even familiar with what actually Naxalism is about, and its history and its role in politics and so on and so forth. Naxalism was born out of a movement in Naxalbari, West Bengal in the 1967, and the organization at the helm was Communist Party of India (Marxist).  The movement gained momentum amongst the rural-tribal populace, and the economic and social statuses of the people led them to affiliate with and fight for all that this ideology offers. Added to the ferment of the marginalized was the support of those few intellectuals – like Charu Majumdar, who felt impassioned for the cause. The unmistakable order of structure in this movement is something which makes it even stronger, and this feature has been imparted because of the involvement of educated, skilled persons of cold, clear logic affiliated with the Communist ideology.

Their sequence of operations, all of them organized, both small and large scale, have increased and it just doesn’t seem to stop. The May of  2013 saw one of the most well planned ambushes by the rebels on a convoy of leaders from the Indian National Congress in Chhattisgarh, and among the 27 deaths, there has been one of a former CM for the state, Mahendra Karma.

The convoy was on what they called the “Parivartan Yatra” in Chhattisgarh. A similar rally, carried out by the state’s CM, Raman Singh from Bharatiya Janata Party, scheduled to take place on the 7th of May, 2013, and it was also a target, but the plan did not succeed. This last ambush seemed to have been a cumulation of outrage caused by some crossfire killings by security forces personnel and the mass movement of the same within the state which displeased the Naxals.

The terrorist activities they carry out express rage and this sort of expression is hardly encourgaed but then such cruelty and raw brutality in the acts they carry out means they are deeply impassioned by some cause that lies beyond the limit of our ability of empathize.

It has been pointed out that they function in states where administration is weaker and the people who support them don’t come from the mainstream – the marginalized form most of their cadres. While the problems were initially socio-economic, they have now become greatly about acquiring power in those states. These states that we are talking about here form what we call the Red Corridor. These include southern Bihar, some districts of Jharkhand and West Bengal, western part of Orissa, almost whole of Chhattisgarh, north of Andhra Pradesh and bits of it spilled in Maharashtra. In the north, Naxalism exists in Uttarakhand, but it is not as severe as what it is like Chhattisgarh.

Added, they aim to paralyze the paramilitary forces established there, which, sadly aren’t very well furnished and their trainings aren’t suited for combat/ Same goes for the state police.

The problem is, as mentioned earlier, socio-economic. Lack of attention towards the tribals, most of whom opposed outsiders’ influx and were disturbed by the skewed distribution of resources, added to which was the social conflict caused by economic backwardness of the tribals and largely subsistence-based peasantry, and discrimination directed against this particular group of people.

“If they wanted power, they could simply fight elections, could they not?” That’s just not it. We must not forget that the communist ideology that they endorse outline government as an instrument of the rich.

Naxals, added to the stronghold of a very radical ideology, is the strong structure – “revenue collection agency, an administrative framework and significant offensive military capability,” and support of a resources – access to conducive land and financial resources and weaponry.

Their radical approach and strong conviction among themselves seems to be unable to absorb anything that government tries to do to appease them. In 2007, there were systematic, planned sabotage operations to make the government stop from carrying out developmental projects – be it anything.

“Sources tell CNN-IBN that work connecting nearly 10,000 villages has come to a halt as Naxals demand up to 10 per cent of the tender value from the contractors which include giants like NHPC, NBCC, NPCC, IRCON and CPWD.”

(SOURCE : CNN-IBN 2007)

How will they stand their stance if the government proves to be otherwise, than what they feel and make their followers feel?

It points out to two possibilities according to the strength of the resistance put up by the government forces. Either it grows into other states if not handled with an iron hand right now, or it is dealt with immediately, and the aftermath of this eradication programme is dealt with carefully deliberated upon mechanisms that are reconciliatory in truest of senses. I would like to toy with the idea of it becoming a separatist movement if the government deploys an iron hand without making clear its intentions of deploying and executing effectively its plans of reconciliations, but that hugely depends upon how the government decides to respond to the threat.

They are many proponents of army’s involvement in the issue, but I do not exactly support the move. I think the paramilitary should be strengthened further, and the docile demeanour, its hightime, should be trashed. While I am not proposing a civil war-like environment, I would like increased actions of the paramilitary forces within the red corridor states. This is a situation where measures like these are extremely necessary, to counter this problem of terrorism.

Another more intangible and somewhat a governing force of this terrorism, is the mindset and and the ideology, the Naxalites and their followers affiliate with. It will take some time to erase the violent hued stubborn presence of their belief and ideology-based actions. Also, they are coping up with time and rekindling their cause with other related issues. V Balachandran, former special secretary, Cabinet Secretariat, writes –

“Naxalites have re-invented themselves and are now taking up new causes which automatically follow from what they call “LPG”: Liberalised, Privatised & Globalised Society. They are now taking up popular issues like displacement, caste equations and retail businesses. They are also considering having a “Pan-Asia Maoist Group” for better coordination among the likeminded across the region.” 

(SOURCE : Pragati |The Indian National Interest Review | No 31 | Oct 2009 )

As many politicians have put forward, development is a solution to this problem, and this has to be carried out in the most effective manner, and as emphasized earlier, it should ring out with clear intentions of reconciliation and must be effectively executed and laid out. Economic and social development is a force, which tend to leave longer lasting effects. This strikes straight at the roots.

However, these are all propositions, and I, like many others in this country, including Arundhati Roy (but not as radically as her) am still trying to learn the deeper, underlying forces of this issue. The possibility of foreign involvement and speculations, administrative issues within the state governments, and so on are various other aspects, but every state will deal with this in the manner that is most suited to them, for instance, Chhattisgarh’s plan of action might be different from that of Bihar.

On a conclusory note, it is very important for us as citizens to realize the momentum of this issue because Naxalism, judging from the way it is progressing, as an uprising, is cancerous, and the governments, both centre and state must start flexing their arms before it takes up attributes which consequentially leave no option save a full- fledged civil war.

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