Monday, August 29, 2005

Beltangady: Naxalites Being Shunned by Villagers - A Victory for Democracy?


by Gladson D'Almeida -, Mangalore

Beltangady, Aug 29: The word 'Naxalites' is soon becoming a menace for many just like 'terrorists'.

Though there is no logic behind it, the simple definition is that people have started rejecting Naxalites, though not their motives. The Naxalite movement was started as the voice of the voiceless and face of the faceless of the society. Indeed a fine and wonderful motto.

But over the years Naxalites have choked the voices and chopped the faces by turning violent. Now they are paying for that. People are deserting them and not their ideals,just because any movement that embraces violence to attain its goal usually dies a natural death.

Peoples' dilemma

Violence and justice, blood and peace, cannot walk hand in hand. History has proved it again and again over the years beginning from the Babylonian revolution to the present-day guerilla, LTTE, ULFA etc movements. Now it is the turn of the Naxalite movement, which is losing its popularity with the people as its aversion for the rule of law and those who implement the law is rising.

One need not go elsewhere to know about the Naxalite movement. If Andhra Pradesh has been marred over the years due to the Naxalites, in the last couple of years Karnataka too has been reeling under this problem. Naxalites, who first made their appearance with the motto of protecting the rights of evacuees of Kudremukh National Park, gradually took shelter in the dense forests adjacent to the Western Ghats.

They did adhere to their ideals and values in the initial stages and mobilized the people. Neither the government nor the police came to know about the rising strength of the Naxalites in the dense forests of Western Ghats and districts adjacent to them.

Opinion divided

The Naxal presence came to light with the now-well-remembered Edu encounter in November 2003 which claimed the lives of two female comrades. Ever since there have been two frctions in the society. While the one supported the Naxalites, the other criticized them. But none of these bothered to take the opinion of the villagers around whom this movement had been built up.

In the last couple of years sufficient blood has been shed in these areas and a quite of few rounds of fire have been exchanged. People are caught in the virtual crossfire, not knowing whether to support the police or the Naxalites. But now it is becoming quite clear that people want to stand by law and order and not violence. They want the protection of their rights but surely not at the cost of blood, either of police, Naxalites or their own kith and kin as it happened at Menasinahadya in Chikmagalur district. A recent report of the intelligence police has revealed that people are rejecting the Naxalites gradually and education has been the main reason behind this turnaround.

Getting to the reality

People are coming to know about the violent situation around them and their result through print and electronic media. Some of them are even able to read between the lines, which is proving very handy in knowing the hidden agendas of Naxalites. They know the clarion call given by the prime minister to Naxalites to 'fight with the ballot and not the bullet'.

When a group of 8 armed men, four male and four female Naxalites recently visited Edu and asked for food from the villagers, the latter have conveyed them prime minister's message to shun 'arms' and to join 'palms'. Having realized the change the Naxalites left the place without much arguments. They have also come to know that some youth are fleecing people in different ways in the name of Naxalites. This has really pushed them to the backseat right now without any option than to change their hideouts.

It is indeed a welcome development on the part of people that they are becoming not only shrewd but even sure as to know and demand their wants and demands on their own strength. Should we call this the victory of democracy or the gift of education?

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