Friday, March 28, 2008

Naxals turning Urban


Recent developments have suggested that the intellectuals supporting the Naxal revolution in India are working on devising a strategy to demand the status of ‘Political prisoners’ for the naxals that have been captured and arrested.

Recently villagers comprising of women and young girls from Bihar, orissa, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal and Jharkhand, staged a demonstration near Jharkhand Chief Minister Madhu Koda’s residence in Ranchi demanding that arrested Naxalites be treated as political prisoners. Earlier, they had organized a march at Jharkhand Raj Bhavan seeking political prisoner status for the detained Maoists.

The general definition of a political prisoner is someone who is imprisoned because of their political views.

The Maoist calls themselves the beacon of the landless and the poor, and pride themselves in waging a struggle for the uplift-ment of the common mass. The same naxalites raid and kill security personnel in cold blood. 

If the naxalites who are accused of killing innocent villagers, political activists and policemen are awarded the status of political prisoners then they would be in the distinguished company of Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi, Fidel Castro, former president of South Korea Kim Dae Jung , Myanmari poet and journalist U Win Tin , who at some point of time in their life were all termed as political prisoners and imprisoned.

These leaders waged a ‘war’ that was based on non-violence and drew its strength from protests that were displayed by way of speeches, writing and non-cooperation. Does the same thing hold true for a hardcore Maoist?

International organization like Amnesty International campaigns for the release of prisoners of conscience or POCs, which include both political prisoners as well as those imprisoned for their religious or philosophical beliefs. But as a matter of principle, the organization's policy is to work only for prisoners who have not committed or advocated violence.

Political prisoners have never been associated with violence against the un-armed. They are the exponent of democracy and civil rights. Can the same thing be said about the Maoist?

The red bastion that they have managed to establish in states like Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh stands testimony to the kind of violence they propagate.

Chhattisgarh is at present the worst hit by Maoist activities. The affected area is Bastar in southern Chhattisgarh, comprising five districts. Kanker (northern Bastar), Bastar (Jagdalpur), Dantewada (southern Bastar), Bijapur and Narayanpur combined together add to 39,000 sq km, a area that is little larger than Kerala and a little smaller than Haryana.

The pathetic and callous attitude of the successive state government in various states towards the development of backward areas has contributed in no small way in the spread of the naxal movement from 1967 when it was first started in Naxalbari in West Bengal.

Even now the answer to eradicating this menace does not lie in the brutal use of force but a strategy that is based on pushing the agenda of socio-economic development in the rural and remote areas. Generating employment opportunity, which is resented by the naxals, will go a long way in dissuading more young legs in joining the movement.

On the other hand excessive use of force will make wounds more deep. Salva Judum campaign in Chhattisgarh has forced the villagers to take side; either they are with the Judum supporters or they are naxalites supporters.

Earlier in 2007 the home ministry came under intense pressure to act against several serving and retired bureaucrats and academics after receiving reports that they were propagating naxalism at a seminar in Delhi.

The report, drawn up by home ministry officials, said the seminar which was held in campus of a university in Delhi had a “pro-Naxalite” theme. The participants engaged themselves in “anti-state” discussions that seemed to justify armed uprising. But a “top-level intervention” stopped the Home ministry from taking any action.

Recently an arms-making-cum-R&D unit of the Maoists was un-earthed in Bhopal. A similar arms-making unit was busted in Rourkela, Orissa. These new development should not be taken as stray incidents but they are a sign of a much larger plan. Now the naxalites are encouraging even the bourgeois and the affluent class to join them. Earlier the membership to their organization was strictly limited to the strata coming from low and poor economic background.

In Nandigram, a fact finding committee has established that the maoist were responsible for inciting the violence in Nandigram and singur.

A report submitted by the West Bengal CM, Buddhadeb Bhattacharya to the Manmohan Singh on the Nandirgam violence has blamed the left wing extremist for the flare up in violence. The report says “It may be noted that Left wing extremists (LWE) have stepped up their propaganda pertaining to the espousal of the causes of farmers by raising the issue of displacement of farmers from their own land for industrial and infrastructural projects. Frontal organizations of LWE activists named the Gana Pratirodh Manch carried out propaganda against the acquisition of land in Singur and have also generally opposed land acquisition for large projects throughout the state,"

The above developments coupled with Maoist shifting their focus on urban intrusion, striving for status of political prisoners, recruiting ‘elite’ class suggests that the naxal leaders have decided to adopt an approach that will bring them out of the rural-deep-forest to the urban areas. Like every thing this movement too is adapting and changing its working with time.

Earlier in December 2007 Prime Minister Manmohan Singh while addressing a conference on internal security attended by chief ministers of all states, cited Naxalism as the lone biggest threat to nation’s internal security and stressed the need of a special force for curbing the growing Naxalism and terrorism menace. The government in the current budget increased the allocated funding on internal security from Rs 17,674 crore to Rs 21,715 crore. Now it remains to be seen that how the government plans to deal with this ‘biggest threat’ to the nation. Merely increasing the funds will not make much difference if there is an absence of political will.

2 comments:

barb michelen said...

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namrata said...

Hi abhinandan. I am a student of NUJS, Kolkatta currently working at Breakthrough, Delhi. This post caught my eye as it very sensitively deals with the most pertinent issue of naxal violence. You have managed to put the issue in focus quite well.
Well, I work on a youth oriented site called www.bellbajao.org and would love for you to blog on it. We have a category called "In The News" which houses topical blogs on Domestic Violence in particular and Violence against women in general, making sure that news and headlines around the issue remain in the limelight.
Please visit the site and do write back to me at namratad2224@gmail.cm about your thoughts on the campaign.And if you're interested, do blog on the site as well. And if you're a regular blogger, we'd be happy to put you on our blogroll and crosslink your blog page on our site.

Thanks and hoping to hear from you,
Namrata.

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