Idealism And Naxalism

When we were young, some of our heroes were Mao-tse Tung, Che Guevara, or even sometimes Pol-Pot. Of course, in time, we learnt about the crimes of Mao, who killed millions of his own people – without speaking of the Tibetans; Pol Pot, of course was even more of a monster. Stalin was not much better.

Thus, in most of the world, communism is practically dead. One cannot call China anymore a communist country – indeed, there may not be a more ruthless capitalistic nation in the world today ; and even Cuba is slowly inching towards free trade.

In India though, not only communist is not dead, but it is flourishing ! You find communist governments in West Bengal, partly in Kerala or Tripura and the present Congress government owes its survival only to the communists.

In a way it is positive. You see a youth like Nandan, filmmaker Mani Ratnam’s son, who was a ‘Red Volunteer’ at a CPI-M recent meet in Chennai. Or you come across an ardent communist like Dr Binayak Sen, now in jail. Also, communists are often non corrupt, they live a simple life style, and are committed, witness their youthful leader Sitaram Yetchury.

Unfortunately there is also a darker side : Indian communists have totally aligned themselves with Lenin and Mao-Tse-Tung, to the point that not only they are anti-spiritual, particularly targeting the Hindus, but often anti-Indian. They will never criticize China for instance and even take side with the Chinese in case of tensions between Delhi and Beijing.

There is even a more dangerous angle: it is when communism takes an armed face. In India it is called Naxalism. The Naxal Movement, which is basically a Maoist-inspired armed struggle, began as a violent peasant uprising against the landlords at Naxalbari village, West Bengal, India on 25th May, 1967 (hence the name Naxalism). It is true that Naxalism may have risen out a wounded sense of injustice seeing how there are still unforgivable disparities in certain parts of India which have suffered for centuries from caste discrimination, exploitations by zamindars (land lords) and the lethargy of the local administrative and political system.

However, Naxals are very clear about their objectives and they freely quote from Mao Zedong: “Its (Maoism’s) purpose is to destroy an existing society and its institutions and to replace them with a completely new structure.” And indeed, if one looks closely at Naxalism today, one sees murder, rapes, kidnappings, extortion, money laundering and human rights violations. Today, 16 of India’s 35 States & UT’s have now Maoists operating in them. This now affects 192 of India’s 604 districts. This prompted Dr. Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India, to recently declare : “It would not be an exaggeration to say that the problem of Naxalism is the single biggest security challenge ever faced by our country.”

In the last twelve months, Naxalism has redoubled its deadly efforts to break-up Indian society: On 15th March 2007, Maoist rebels massacred 16 officers of the Chhattisgarh Armed Force (CAF), 39 Special Police Officers (SPO’s) and injured 12 others at the Rani Bodli village. On 27th October, 2007, Armed naxals massacred 17 people including a former Jharkhand chief minister’s son in the Chilkhari village of the state’s Giridih district. On 16th December, 2007, in a daring jailbreak, 110 naxalites escaped from the Dantewada Jail in Chhattisgarh, Eastern India. On 8th February 2008, in Orissa, 300 rebels, including 100 women, gunned down 6 policemen at a police reserve which houses an armoury, 4 others at a training school and 2 at Nayagarh police station in the heart of the town. The Maoists also took away over 1,200 state-of-the art rifles and 1 lakh live bullets. The rebels were within striking distance of the state capital, Bhubaneshwar, which is barely 100 km away.

Sometimes, the Press says that the Naxal menace is on the wane. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Naxalites have a budget of Rs. 60 crores (US$ 15 Million) for carrying out its armed struggle during 2007-09. This is raised abroad by overt NGO’s, in countries like Norway, where there is some sympathy for the Naxalite movement. Furthermore, emboldened by the Maoists in Nepal who have not only conquered the countryside, but come to the Government, Naxalites in India have recently released a stunning declaration:

1. We pledge: To coordinate the people’s war with the ongoing armed struggles of the various oppressed nationalities in Kashmir (North Himalayan state, already reeling under an Islamic separatist movement), Assam, Nagaland, Manipur and other parts of the Northeast.

2. To build a broad UF (United Front) of all secular forces and persecuted religious minorities such as Muslims, Christians and Sikhs.

3. To build a secret party apparatus which is impregnable to the enemy’s attacks.

4. To build open and secret mass organisations amongst the workers, peasants, youth, students, women and other sections of the people.

5. To build the people’s militia in all the villages in the guerrilla zones as the base force of the PGA (People’s Guerrilla Army). Also build armed self-defence units in other areas of class struggle as well as in the urban areas.

The Government of India has tried everything to contain the Naxalites: negociation, counter-insurgency, arming the tribals… But with little results. HH Sri Sri Ravi Shankar of the Art of Living Foundation has thus started a dialogue with Naxalites to show that the gun is not only solution and that ancient techniques such as pranayama can help to bring this people around. His teachings and initiatives have transformed many villages in the Naxalite-infested areas of Andhra Pradesh and Bihar. During His visits to Bihar, more than 100,000 youth from warring factions such as Ranvir Sena, CPI-ML, People’s War Group and Maoist Communist Centre vowed to spread the message of non-violence. He also recently initiated a much needed Peace and Reconciliation conference in Oslo, Norway, on April 11th 08, which focused on the internal armed conflicts of South Asia, particularly Naxalism, and discussed possible solutions and means to solve them. Norway’s Special Envoy, Jon Hanssen-Bauer, Members of European Parliament Erika Mann, Nirj Deva and Aud Kvalbein, Deputy Mayor of Oslo were some of the prominent European speakers in the conference which was a great success.

Finally we can only conclude by quoting Ajit Doval, Former Director, Intelligence Bureau : “Taking the trends of the last five years, we can build a model of the security scenario for the year 2010. Over 260 districts, nearly half of India, would be Naxal affected where the government’s writ hardly runs.” Is the Naxal dream of a Red Belt, from Nepal to Andhra Pradesh, become a reality? We hope not. For the ancient Indian Way of Life, the Dharma, offers other solutions.

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