Maoists still hold about 250 villagers hostage in Sukuma district of Chhattisgarh on the eve of PM Shri Narendra Modi‘s visit, to the neighbouring district of Dantevara. It is said that abductions were made because the villagers were supporting development work against the wishes of Maovadi. Now information is coming that one villager has been killed & rest have been released but this information is yet to be confirmed, officially. This is not the first time of abductions. In fact, they are frequently challenging the democratically elected government & its agencies. They have created several pockets of “liberated zones” in few states particularly in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand & West Bengal. Other states like Bihar, Orissa & Andhra often remain on their targets. Thousands of people including Police & para military forces have been killed so far.
The development work in red affected areas are very slow due to the fact that they demand heavy levy & secondly agencies are reluctant to work in those areas. Frequent abduction of officials & villagers are regular feature in those areas. ManMohan Singh, on several occasions mentioned Maovadi’s as the biggest threat to the integrity of the nation. But unfortunately he could not do much to curb it. In fact development work is not possible unless there is peace & tranquillity. Government so far have failed to create conducive atmosphere & to curb the Naxal terrorism.
Naxilism is not new in India. It has its roots back to 1967. The term Naxalites comes from Naxalbari a small village in West Bengal, where a section of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI-M) led by Charu Majumdar, Kanu Sanyal, and Jangle Santhal initiated a violent uprising in 1967. On 18 May 1967, the Siliguri Kishan Sabha, of which Jangle was the president, declared their support for the movement initiated by Kanu Sanyal and readiness to adopt armed struggle to redistribute land to the landless. The following week, a sharecropper near Naxalbari village was attacked by the landlord’s men over a land dispute. On 24 May, when a police team arrived to arrest the peasant leaders, it was ambushed by a group of tribal led by Jangle Santhal, and a police inspector was killed in a hail of arrows. This event encouraged many Santhal tribal and other poor people to join the movement and to start attacking local landlords.
These conflicts go back to the failure of implementing the 5th and 9th Schedules of the Constitution of India. In theory these Schedules provide for a limited form of tribal autonomy with regard to exploiting natural resources on their lands, e.g. pharmaceutical and mining, and ‘land ceiling laws’, limiting the land to be possessed by landlords and distribution of excess land to landless farmers and labourers. The caste system is another important social aspect of these conflicts. Our Constitution enshrined balance development of society with socialistic pattern of society. Both of these ideologies remain in the constitution only – like the 5th & 9th schedules. We can see how underdeveloped is the condition of our north east. Insurgency is greatest problem there too. Here our topic is Naxilism so north east is left out from discussions.
Mao Zedong provided ideological leadership for the Naxalbari movement, advocating that Indian peasants and lower class tribal overthrow the government and upper classes by force. A large number of urban elites were also attracted to the ideology, which spread through Charu Majumdar’s writings, particularly the ‘Historic Eight Documents’ which formed the basis of Naxalites ideology.
Around 1971 the Naxalites gained a strong presence among the radical sections of the student movement in West Bengal. Students left school to join the Naxalites. Majumdar, to entice more students into his organisation, declared that revolutionary warfare was to take place not only in the rural areas as before, but everywhere and spontaneously. Thus Majumdar declared an “annihilation line”, a dictum that Naxalites should assassinate individual “class enemies” (such as landlords, businessmen, university teachers, police officers, politicians of the right and left) and others.
Indira Gandhi was very much worried with Naxal movement as it was spreading like fire in city & rural areas. She selected Sidharth Shankar Roy as CM of West Bengal. S S Roy instituted strong counter insurgency against Naxalites. A combined police, army, paramilitary & commando insurgency operation took place, killing hundreds of Naxalites & imprisoned more than 20k suspects cadres including senior leaders of nexlite. In 1972 Charu Mazumdar was arrested & later on he died in Alipore Jail. In this way Naxilism came to an end in WB.
Naxal movement got momentum due to lack of strong central leadership & lack of cohesiveness between different state’s police force. Naxal gradually left its ideology & targeting those classes for whom it was initially founded. Unfortunately they are also getting political patronage, as reported more often. So far it has been treated as law & order problem. But in fact it is the result of socio economic condition, on- implementation of constitutional schedules, Disparities between haves & haves not, poor development of remote areas, caste system, land reforms etc. West Bengal & Kerala are the only two states which implemented land reforms.
We will have to eliminate Naxalism. Now we have strong leadership in centre. Let the government implement 5th & 9th schedule of the constitution, Land reform, development & simultaneously a strong iron hand to deal with them. The political Parties in power both in centre & states will have to keep vote politics at bay, to curb Naxilism. Congress never came in power in West Bengal after 1972, but terrorism was finished once for all.
Present leadership should draw inspiration from Mrs Indira Gandhi to curb violence of Naxalites else we will continue to loose our innocent brothers and sisters.
By Dr Dinesh Mishra