Friday, June 19, 2009

Naxal veterans slam Lalgarh misadventure

19 Jun 2009, 0315 hrs IST, Jhimli Mukherjee Pandey , TNN

KOLKATA: It's been just over three decades since the Naxalite uprising, but old-timers haven't forgotten the heady whiff of revolution. So,
parallels are being drawn with the Lalgarh movement just as the Maoists have rattled the CPM government, the Naxalites, back in the '60s and '70s, had put the Congress government in a fix. There are similarities in the two operations.

But yesteryear Naxalites don't think so. In fact, they brand the Lalgarh offensive a "misadventure".

Many feel the time was not suitable for an armed offensive. According to them, it was the time for a democratic movement through which the masses could have been mobilised and demands placed. As the Left Front's losses in the Lok Sabha elections show, change is in the air. Had the democratic movement failed to get a better deal for the tribals, only then would an armed struggle be imperative.

At this stage, it would just see innocent lives sacrificed without managing to get a fair deal for the masses, they feel.

One of the most well-known faces of the Naxalite movement, Kanu Sanyal, felt that from the very beginning, the Lalgarh movement lacked the character of a mass uprising. This is the main difference with the Naxalite movement, which started off with farmers capturing land. The struggle revolved around keeping the land away from the state or the rich landowner. "Our agenda was fixed. We led the farmers from the forefront and were ready to die. So many of us got caught and killed, but it was for the cause of a revolution. But the Maoists are egging on the tribals of Lalgarh from the rear. When the state machinery strikes, they have their retreat route ready. Do you call this a revolution?" Sanyal asked.

He still lives in Naxalbari in Darjeeling district and has been keenly following the developments in Lalgarh. "I had expected them to at least come up with a charter of demands for the people. Instead, they have always played on the emotions of the tribals by calling them a class. During the Naxalite movement we just had two classes the rich and the poor we didn't create such caste divides." All that the Maoists had done for the tribals was create a small armed group that would fight police while they themselves beat a retreat. The unarmed masses would be left to die, he feared.

Another well-known Naxalite leader, Purnendu Basu, feels the Maoists are not good strategists. "They are using helpless tribals as bait to increase their influence. Several Naxalite leaders like Santosh Rana, Pradip Banerjee and Aditya Kisku, have been trying for the past year to visit them and start a dialogue. It would have actually helped the Maoists as these three leaders had led the struggle in the same zone in the 70s and could have shared their experiences and seen that there were no excesses," Basu added.

Azizul Haq is upset with the way in which the Maoist movement is progressing in Lalgarh. "Listen to their leader Kishanji's interviews. He has himself said that Maoists helped oust Trinamool from Keshpur while he is now trying to oust CPM from Lalgarh. Are they hired goons or leaders of a mass movement?" Haq asked.

He also questioned the new-found friendship between Maoists and Trinamool. "How can a movement like this find a friend in Trinamool that represents the remnants of feudalism? A party that has a leader who was the publicity officer in Voice of America against the Nicaragua struggle (Kabir Suman) will help Maoists in their pro-people struggle?" Haq asked cynically.

He felt that the state operation at Lalgarh is nothing but big drama, which will help them escape. It might also see Maoist leaders take refuge in Trinamool leaders' homes initially and establish themselves elsewhere.

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