Friday, July 10, 2009

Understanding Naxalism….

Ritam Banati

The crisis in Lalgarh has once again brought to the forefront the menace of Naxalism in India which has aptly been called as the biggest internal security threat of the country by none other than Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

The recent ban clamped on CPI (Maoist) by the Centre is reason enough to contemplate about the genesis of the organisation. The roots of Maoists clearly lie in our neighbour China.

Mao Tse Tung was the founder of the Communist Party of China. His party worked for the betterment of the Chinese society like ridding the fields of opium cultivation. The poor peasants benefited from his first five-year program as land was redistributed in favour of the poor peasants. However his Great Leap Forward went wrong causing millions of deaths.

Mao’s ideology can be easily understood from his words that succinctly state, “Revolutionary warfare is never confined within the bounds of military action — its purpose is to destroy an existing society and its institutions and to replace them with a completely new structure.”

The peasant uprising in the Naxalbari province of West Bengal in 1967 was what sparked off the Naxalite Movement in the country. This was backed by the hardline faction of the CPI (Marxist) which later broke away from the main party and led the uprising under the banner of All India Coordination Committee of Communist Revolutionaries. Its leaders were Kanu Sanyal and the late Charu Mazumdar.

Later the CPI (Marxist-Leninist) was formed out of the All India Coordination Committee of Communist Revolutionaries after internal dissidence hit the latter in 1969. During this time, Sanyal was jailed for seven years and Charu Majumdar was killed in police custody when the government started the violent suppression of the Naxalite movement in Bengal.

CPI (M-L) too was ridden by factionalism and thus emerged the Peoples War Group or the PWG and the Maoist Communist Centre or the MCC. These two later joined to form the present day CPI (Maoists) which is even called CPI (M-L) by some unofficially.

The grievances of the rural poor, who stood up for their rights were genuine. But the means that they started adopting to achieve their ends were violent as they lent credence to Mao’s belief, “War can only be abolished through war, and in order to get rid of the gun it is necessary to take up the gun.”

They believed that they were at war with the government. Therefore they decided to pick up the gun. Had the government addressed their grievances properly then and decided to nip the movement in the bud itself by eliminating the cause which attracted scores of people to its fold, then Lalgarh would have been reduced to imagination gone wild. But Naxalism spread like wildfire and now the existence of the Red Corridor speaks for itself.


Starting from Andhra Pradesh, the 'Red Corridor' runs through Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Bihar.

It links what the Maoists call the 'liberated zones' of India with the territories of Nepal which are under their grip. It covers nearly a quarter of India’s territory.

When our website carried out an online poll, it found that out of Naxalism and terrorism, most people felt that the country faced a greater danger from the Naxalite forces than the terrorists.

The gameplan of the terrorist is to gain world attention. The aim of the Naxalite is to get noticed nationally. And therefore the jailbreak attempts and the train hijack cases.

This fact was once again brought to the forefront at the time of the Lalgarh violence. Encouraged by the debacle of the CPI (Marxist) in the Lok Sabha polls, the Maoists struck Lalgarh of West Midnapore district of West Bengal justifying it under the garb of protesting against police torture. But the weakness of their argument got reflected when they formed human shields of women and children in a bid to protect themselves from the police.

The question really is not that the Lalgarh crisis was because of the problem of Naxalism. But that Naxalism is itself a cause of something which we have not cared to pay much attention to. And that is abject poverty. This does not mean that the Lalgarh killings or any other killing by Naxals in trains etc are justified. Nor does it overlook the fact that Naxals are killing the tribals, whose cause they claim to be espousing.

There is an opinion that it was due to the tacit support of the Trinamool Congress that the Naxals were able to foment such violence in Lalgarh. But whatever the allegations and counter-allegations maybe, the fact remains that as of now Naxalism has been reduced to militancy. So any talk about its ideology is worthless in the contemporary era.

Unfortunately it is always the innocent, who are trapped in the crossfire and have to pay with their lives. Naxals kill them alleging they are police informers. Police torture them in custody alleging they are Naxal sympathizers like what happened with Dr Binayak Sen, who was jailed for a few years in Chhatisgarh for being a courier between a jailed Naxalite and a local trader.

But like nobody is a born criminal, similarly no one can be a born Naxal. It is mostly unemployment and extreme poverty that pushes the youth to this menace. And if ever anyone decides to get out of its clutches, then his life is at stake.

The issue has also become increasingly politicized, as parties try to delve into what best suits their political interests. The answer to this problem does not lie in the creation of organizations like the village security groups like Salwa Judum. Rather it worsens the situation further. And the worst part is that it is only the common man who ultimately bears the brunt either in terms of loss of life or otherwise.

For the solution, one needs to take up broader issues like ensuring basic employment and a fairer distribution of wealth. Thus, the issue first needs to be dealt with economically, then socially. Finally, a democracy like ours provides sufficient voice to those who want to be heard.



Ritam Banati

The crisis in Lalgarh has once again brought to the forefront the menace of Naxalism in India which has aptly been called as the biggest internal security threat of the country by none other than Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

The recent ban clamped on CPI (Maoist) by the Centre is reason enough to contemplate about the genesis of the organisation. The roots of Maoists clearly lie in our neighbour China.

Mao Tse Tung was the founder of the Communist Party of China. His party worked for the betterment of the Chinese society like ridding the fields of opium cultivation. The poor peasants benefited from his first five-year program as land was redistributed in favour of the poor peasants. However his Great Leap Forward went wrong causing millions of deaths.

Mao’s ideology can be easily understood from his words that succinctly state, “Revolutionary warfare is never confined within the bounds of military action — its purpose is to destroy an existing society and its institutions and to replace them with a completely new structure.”

The peasant uprising in the Naxalbari province of West Bengal in 1967 was what sparked off the Naxalite Movement in the country. This was backed by the hardline faction of the CPI (Marxist) which later broke away from the main party and led the uprising under the banner of All India Coordination Committee of Communist Revolutionaries. Its leaders were Kanu Sanyal and the late Charu Mazumdar.

Later the CPI (Marxist-Leninist) was formed out of the All India Coordination Committee of Communist Revolutionaries after internal dissidence hit the latter in 1969. During this time, Sanyal was jailed for seven years and Charu Majumdar was killed in police custody when the government started the violent suppression of the Naxalite movement in Bengal.

CPI (M-L) too was ridden by factionalism and thus emerged the Peoples War Group or the PWG and the Maoist Communist Centre or the MCC. These two later joined to form the present day CPI (Maoists) which is even called CPI (M-L) by some unofficially.

The grievances of the rural poor, who stood up for their rights were genuine. But the means that they started adopting to achieve their ends were violent as they lent credence to Mao’s belief, “War can only be abolished through war, and in order to get rid of the gun it is necessary to take up the gun.”

They believed that they were at war with the government. Therefore they decided to pick up the gun. Had the government addressed their grievances properly then and decided to nip the movement in the bud itself by eliminating the cause which attracted scores of people to its fold, then Lalgarh would have been reduced to imagination gone wild. But Naxalism spread like wildfire and now the existence of the Red Corridor speaks for itself.

Starting from Andhra Pradesh, the 'Red Corridor' runs through Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Bihar.

It links what the Maoists call the 'liberated zones' of India with the territories of Nepal which are under their grip. It covers nearly a quarter of India’s territory.

When our website carried out an online poll, it found that out of Naxalism and terrorism, most people felt that the country faced a greater danger from the Naxalite forces than the terrorists.

The gameplan of the terrorist is to gain world attention. The aim of the Naxalite is to get noticed nationally. And therefore the jailbreak attempts and the train hijack cases.

This fact was once again brought to the forefront at the time of the Lalgarh violence. Encouraged by the debacle of the CPI (Marxist) in the Lok Sabha polls, the Maoists struck Lalgarh of West Midnapore district of West Bengal justifying it under the garb of protesting against police torture. But the weakness of their argument got reflected when they formed human shields of women and children in a bid to protect themselves from the police.

The question really is not that the Lalgarh crisis was because of the problem of Naxalism. But that Naxalism is itself a cause of something which we have not cared to pay much attention to. And that is abject poverty. This does not mean that the Lalgarh killings or any other killing by Naxals in trains etc are justified. Nor does it overlook the fact that Naxals are killing the tribals, whose cause they claim to be espousing.

There is an opinion that it was due to the tacit support of the Trinamool Congress that the Naxals were able to foment such violence in Lalgarh. But whatever the allegations and counter-allegations maybe, the fact remains that as of now Naxalism has been reduced to militancy. So any talk about its ideology is worthless in the contemporary era.

Unfortunately it is always the innocent, who are trapped in the crossfire and have to pay with their lives. Naxals kill them alleging they are police informers. Police torture them in custody alleging they are Naxal sympathizers like what happened with Dr Binayak Sen, who was jailed for a few years in Chhatisgarh for being a courier between a jailed Naxalite and a local trader.

But like nobody is a born criminal, similarly no one can be a born Naxal. It is mostly unemployment and extreme poverty that pushes the youth to this menace. And if ever anyone decides to get out of its clutches, then his life is at stake.

The issue has also become increasingly politicized, as parties try to delve into what best suits their political interests. The answer to this problem does not lie in the creation of organizations like the village security groups like Salwa Judum. Rather it worsens the situation further. And the worst part is that it is only the common man who ultimately bears the brunt either in terms of loss of life or otherwise.

For the solution, one needs to take up broader issues like ensuring basic employment and a fairer distribution of wealth. Thus, the issue first needs to be dealt with economically, then socially. Finally, a democracy like ours provides sufficient voice to those who want to be heard.

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