History may have witnessed many insurgencies throughout, but there is none like the Naxalite-Maoist insurgency. Started in 1967, as the Naxalite movement, preceeded by the formation of Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist), the revolution has spread like a wildfire since then and is now considered the “longest continuously active conflict” worldwide. Before I can judge anything about the naxalites, I would like to brief the history of the uprising.
The term Naxal is derived from the name of the village Naxalbari in West Bengal, where the movement had commenced. Their ideologies trace back to the Maoist political sentiments from the Chinese Revolution. They are considered far-left radical communists and claim to be supported by the poorest of the rural population, mostly backed by the local Adivasis. On May 18, 1967, a violent uprising backed by leaders, Charu Majumdar and Jangal Santhal occurred in the Naxalbari village. Their basic motive was to thwart the government and the upper class by force, whereas, distribute land to the landless. On May 24, when a police team infuriated by the plight caused by the revolutionaries arrived to take control of the scene, they were brutally executed by a hail of arrows from the angry peasants. This revolt marked the formation of Naxalites, which went on to become one of the greatest revolutions ever in Indian history.
The then leader Charu Majumdar claimed to be inspired by the doctrines of Mao Zedong (leader of the Chinese revolution) and his ideologies proved to be a firm foundation for the Naxal movement. It also bears resemblance from The Cuban Revolution (1953 – 1959), backed by Fidel Castro and inspiring revolutionary, Ernesto Che Guevara. The rebellion started to end the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista. Guevara fought for the oppressed and was a Marxist himself. Leaders Jangal Santhal and Charu Majumdar were heavily inspired by Guevara’s ideologies. An amazing aspect of the movement is that, apart from involving the oppressed, it attracted support from the urban elites as well as the students, especially in West Bengal. Over the years, the revolution has grown strongly currently they monitor about 40% of India’s territory, covering nearly 92,000 kms (also known as the RED CORRIDOR). Today, they have become legal organizations like Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Liberation and Communist Party of India (Maoist) which actively participate in parliamentary elections, whereas being engaged in armed guerilla struggle. Main Naxal prone areas include Orissa, Bihar, Jharkhand, Chattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh and Assam.
I appreciate the efforts of the peasants to put forward their demands in front of the government and stay adamant to the revolution, but, estimating some of very recent events, I’d rather say that the revolution has lost its path. The Maoists should revise their leitmotif again and shed some light upon their original idea of “fighting for the people”. Instead of fighting for the people, they are using people to claim their demands. This certainly was not the motif of Charu Majumdar, neither did he describe such methods in his doctrine. Frequent killing of villagers, illegal mining activities, using women and children as human shields and recruiting children as young as 6 years in the armed rebellion has questioned the credibility of the Naxal maxim. You may all remember the day of April 6, 2010, marked in the calenders of history – the biggest assault in the history of Naxalite movement. A force of about 1000 Naxalites had a well planned ambush on two separated battalions of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and killed 76 of the policemen while wounding 50 other policemen in the forest of Dantewada district of Chattisgarh. This insidious act by the rebels brought them in the limelight and pictured their extent of brutality. Till date, over 59 maoist attacks have occurred in India.
Usually, at the onset of a revolution, one envisages a balanced society giving equal rights to everyone. But as it proceeds on to gain attention, the civilians get harmed the most. I was horrified to look at the death toll since the onset of the rebellion from 1980s. Here are some of the statistics:-
- Over 40,000 people have been displaced since 1980 to 2006.
- The armed rebellion violence has taken a total of about 12,000 people, out of which, over 6000 are civilians, 4000 policemen and 2000 insurgents.
- More than half of the above mentioned death toll has occurred in the past decade.
- There is still no reports about the innumerable deaths of children who are continually being exposed to injuries, time after time.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has conceded that the burgeoning Maoist insurgency is the “single biggest security challenge ever faced by the country. He also admitted that the Naxalites have gained influence among a larger section of the Indian society, including the tribal communities, the intelligentsia and most importantly, the youth. He added that “Dealing with the left wing communists requires a nuanced strategy – a holistic approach. It cannot be treated simply as a law and order problem.” But, the government is not taking it seriously and the “holistic approach” described by the Prime Minister is certainly not showing any effects. Time is slipping out of their hands and the more they delay it, the more grueling consequences will start to show. In my opinion, the most prudent option is tackling some of the basic demands of the rebellions, while make a deal with the preposterous ones. Otherwise, the government should start making a new army of paramilitary troopers to face the rebellion, which would result in more bloodshed as we have witnessed earlier. I wish the government should take enough measures to ensure the safety of thousands of innocent civilians, both from the rural and urban population.