Naxalism in India began more than 50 years ago with the peasants’ armed rebellion in Naxalbari of West Bengal. It was contained soon in a few years. Yet, the Maoist ideology that nurtured the movement remained intact and continued to be supported by intellectuals. The thinking behind this school has been that India did not attain independence in 1947; rather, it was a transfer of power from the colonial rulers to the bourgeoisie. It was based on the belief that ‘real independence’ will be realised when a ‘people’s government’ will be formed. It considered the state the ultimate enemy. Therefore, the conclusive aim of their armed rebellion has been to topple the democratic government and establish an alternate government of leftist radicals in the country. It has been openly propagated, and the belief has been justified by many intellectuals through the much-quoted Maoist maxim that political “Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun”.
The menace of Naxalism, spearheaded by our indigenous followers of Mao Zedong, the Chinese dictator, has troubled Indian people and their governments for the past 50 years. With the ultimate objective of capturing power through violence and establish parallel governments, efforts have been on to build a “red corridor” from West Bengal in the east to Andhra Pradesh and Telangana in the south up to Maharashtra’s Gadchiroli in the west via Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh, although this dream remains largely unachieved. Yet, it is the same area, falling in Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand, is severely affected by this threat. Midway into this proposed corridor, areas that have been freed from the influence of the state are termed as “liberated zones”. These zones have established the “jantana sarkars” (the people’s governments) and Maoists create fear psychosis in villagers to inhibit them from approaching administration and police for their requirements and problems. The Maoist version of government — the ‘people’s governments’ run by guerrillas in the jungles — are the extreme barbaric and inhuman version of any government in the past or present, which matches in barbarity only that of their ideologue Mao, who got millions of people butchered in China in the name of the Great Leap Forward.
There have been two distinct levels of Maoist movement in India — visible and invisible — as per the work divided between open and secret work. Visible action has been carried out in ‘safe’ places, the ‘conflict’ zones, where government has less presence largely because of tough terrains. The dense forests of Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh have been safe havens for ‘the real action’ of ‘visible’ players, i.e. the men and women of guerrilla army of Maoists in uniforms.
As such, in urban areas, there is no armed rebellion because of the presence of police and other security forces, which poses a higher degree of risk to the rebels. Yet, the urban intellectual force provides logistical support and works as a defence team for the rural work of Maoists. The urban network, consisting of radical intellectuals in cities, through their individual and institutional support system, wires the entire agenda and helps legitimising it at national and international levels. In other words, the urban network does the crucial strategising part, whereas the execution of action plans is done in the conflict zones. Thus, the rural armed struggle is complemented through powerful urban force.
Police and security forces are a symbol of state authority; so, Maoists kill them in jungles and villages. Sophisticated weapons, equipment and communication system are either obtained by looting the police force whom the communist terrorists kill or attack and/or these are procured through a network, facilitated by a hierarchy ranging from the guerrilla force to district, State, regional and central-level Maoists.
Whenever the invisible team realises that the terrorising violent force is getting weak in the action areas, the invisible force, in the garb of intellectuals, becomes more active. Salwa Judam is such an example. It posed a serious threat to the armed struggle as the villagers waged an open war against Maoists in the Bastar division of Chhattisgarh. It was a people’s movement against their real enemies — the Maoists. Maoists’ supporters and sympathisers, who manage the reign of terror, got restless with this armed open rebellion against their foot soldiers. They began working on the loopholes of the entire powerful movement. Finally, they were successful in getting Salwa Judam discontinued through legal provisions.
While the urban force kept itself busy creating a façade of welfare objectives of Maoists before society, the Maoists demolished more than 300 school buildings in Bastar during Salwa Judam. Can anyone claiming to be fighting for welfare of tribal people, justify denial of education to children by damaging infrastructure and inducting them to Naxal activities? Can there be a reasoning for destruction of power towers and digging up of newly constructed roads so that rural connectivity is disrupted? Remember, the recent fatal attacks by Maoists in Sukma have been on teams assisting in road construction in the area. Who does not want roads and other basic infrastructure facilities? Who does not want their children to be educated? Who does not want development? Who would deny connectivity? But, a stereotype myth is created that no development work is happening, therefore, villagers have picked up arms. Whereas the fact is that development is not allowed to take place; constructed roads are dug and already laid power towers are demolished to let villagers remain aloof from the contemporary world.
Maoists are the culprits of the local people whose war they claim to be waging. They have stalled economic development of the areas in which they are active. They intend to keep the Adivasis of the jungles cut off and isolated from the mainstream, compelled to lead a life of pre-historic times. They have deprived them of the basic facilities of health and education so that they can continue their own agenda under the facade created by them.
The intellectual managers of the Maoist movement drive their propaganda of perception and the outside world becomes a spectator to this propaganda. The stories of collateral damage reported in the national media are selective, too. Some stories covered by the local media on Maoist atrocities on villagers are not even picked up by national media. Real stories of everyday pain and suffering instilled due to the reign of terror do not come out of Bastar, even to Raipur at times and Delhi and the other parts of the world mostly. On the other hand, some other selective stories are covered in the national media which portray State as the perpetrator. Ironically, some news appears in national media first and via that route it reaches local media and is picked up locally. Some media-persons work as couriers too between rural and urban forces. They are the ones who select stories to be shown to the world.
It is through the penetration of urban sympathisers in media that brutal Maoist atrocities at the ground level are conveniently kept under the wraps. It is through this network that local issues turn national and international in no time and transnational mobilisation takes place for the smallest of people and happenings. It is certainly because of such a planned network alone that in no time, the arrest of a student leader of JNU gets the support of hundreds of ‘intellectuals’ across the world.
In addition to infiltration in media, certain urban pockets have been created through NGOs, other mass and democratic organisations and fronts. An inhuman brutal world exists under the garb of liberalism, freedom of speech, human rights, voice of dissent, etc. Even legal and administrative institutions are being misused for Maoist activities. The urban supporters and sympathisers of Maoists have contributed in aggravating the situation by aiding in their nefarious designs through media, law, academics, art and the statutory bodies of the State, like the National Human Rights Commission and the Supreme Court, etc.
When Maoists in jungles face any difficulty, the force in the cities becomes active. It is largely through the propaganda via student and teacher organisations and media that the cause of Naxals is not only defended but also romanticised. The youth in colleges and universities are brain-washed. Students are taught that the armed forces are rapists — as if deployed in the conflict zones only to rape tribal women! It is through campuses and media that culprits, when caught, are termed as innocent and ‘misguided youth’.
Surrendered Maoists like Podiyum Panda have named some professors of reputed universities for planning and channelling funds. Sukma and many other massacres in the recent past became occasions of jubilation for some intellectuals. A section of JNU students and teachers celebrated the merciless killing of armed forces deployed in the Maoist-affected area of Dantewada in Chhattisgarh in which 76 security men were brutally killed. Some academicians have been visiting Maoist areas under fake identities too.
When Shamnath Baghel, an Adivasi of Nama village of the Sukma district tried to raise voice against Maoists, he was brutally murdered by them. His wife, Vimla filed an FIR and directly named some academicians of prestigious universities of Delhi for their role in the murder and other Naxal activities in the area.
Slogans like “Bastar maange azadi, Kashmir maange azadi, Nagaland maange azadi” cannot be just out-of-place slogans in some of the most renowned universities of the country, but they are a part of the secessionist agenda run by urban and rural Maoists in cohesion, as they plan to widen their base by fuelling such demands.
Thus, there goes a visible war waged on the front and an invisible war which is being fought behind the scene. Organisational precision and propaganda machinery is provided by the intellectual force, whereas the bloody violent war is fought at the ground by the trained guerrillas.
Out of rural and urban Naxalism, the latter pose a bigger danger. The leftist terrorists’ ultimate aim is to grab power in the cities although it is not easy to build bases there. Still, the formation of pockets as urban jungles is too dangerous to be ignored. Many a times, strategists have warned that if they join hands with terrorists and cross-border enemy forces. This could be disastrous for the country.
Maoists in jungles could not have survived the movement for more than half a century without the tacit support of the strategists sitting in cities and poisoning young generations. The matter of concern is that though the Left-Wing Extremism-affected area (LWE area) has reduced in size (as declared by the Union government), there is no dearth of urban supporters of Maoism in cities. The state is too powerful to be intimidated by the visible enemy in the jungles, but it requires an efficient strategy to deal with invisible the Naxals who so easily get cloaked in the garb of academics, lawyers, journalists, human rights activists, etc. The entire network of leftist extremists is the biggest strategic threat to national security. The real strength of their movement lies in the cities as has also been confirmed through the activities of some NGOs, which have been under the scanner, and the arrests of a few urban Naxals. State machinery, especially the police and intelligence, must weaken the urban network if India wishes to be completely free from the menace of Naxalism.