The State Must Move In

Naxalism is one of the biggest threats to India’s internal security. The word Naxalism comes from the name of a West Bengal village – Naxalbari, which witnessed a failed peasant uprising in 1967. Started by communist leader, Mazumdar after a tribal youth had been attacked by local landlords, the tribals retaliated in the revolt and started forceful recapture of their lands.

The incident echoed throughout the country and thus Naxalism was born. Naxalism assumed larger dimensions when the state units of CPI(M) in Uttar Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir and some sections of the state units in Bihar and Andhra Pradesh joined the struggle.

Naxalism has debunked democracy and its institutions. The deplorable socio-economic conditions in the Naxalite-affected areas and their neglect by the establishment have made it easy for the Naxalites to exploit the discontentment among the poor and illiterate people. They operate in forest areas as these offer ideal conditions to carry out guerrilla warfare. The ideal conditions include a local population alienated due to their exploitation by landlords, moneylenders, contractors, bureaucracy and lack of effective administration. There have been many well intentioned government schemes for the development of Naxalite-affected areas but unfortunately, these so far have remained only on paper.

While this movement is around four decades old , it is only now beginning to register on the national consciousness as a significant threat to India’s rural hinterland. The Naxalbari movement spread from West Bengal through Orissa to north Andhra Pradesh. The other areas are Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra. Of these worst affected are Andhra Pradesh and Bihar.

The central government perceives the socio-economic, political and regional inequalities as the basic causes for the continuation and expansion of Naxalism. The centre has asked the states to accord high priority to the development of the affected areas. All the states agree that development of backward areas is the long term solution to tackle Naxalism. According to them, an expansion of the police force with properly manned and equipped police stations is required.

There has been widening gap between the intention and actuality. All kinds of revolutionaries believe that they can at one go dismantle democracy and its institutions. They feel that this action alone is the adequate corrective. The fact is that democracy offers those institutions and instruments of social change and transformation which are more effective than what Naxals seem to perpetuate.

In reality, Naxalite violence is misdirected and politically counterproductive because the Naxalite groups have been unable to understand the popular base of democratically elected governments and this is the reason they are organising solitary struggles. The government should adopt an approach that tackles the menace of Naxalism. The government must realize that unless the state moves in, the naxals will not move out.

Ashima Mathur

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