Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh had described the Maoist guerillas or Naxalites as the biggest threat to the internal security, and last year in December, he advocated the need to set up a special force to eliminate “the virus”. The Naxalites are spreading like wildfire in the country. A decade ago, they were active only in four states but now 15 states across the country are affected by Maoist violence. The worst affected states are West Bengal, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh. Chhattisgarh, in fact is the ‘garh’ (headquarters) of the Naxalites. They control major areas of the state and even run a parallel government where public courts are arranged and judgments are pronounced.
Naxalites have changed since the days of Charu Majumdar (leader of the Naxal Movement) and the Naxalbari Movement. The Movement that was born because of growing disparities, inequalities, discrimination and underdevelopment has deviated very far from the ideology of Majumdar. Naxalites claim to thrive on the support of the people from underdeveloped rural pockets of the country but ironically it has grown more violent, targeting innocent villagers and CRPF jawans, among others. The figures quoted by the Hindustan Times show that in 2007, 214 policemen were killed in the fight against Naxalites, while 133 Naxalite casualties were recorded. It is also believed that Naxalites may have joined hands with terror outfits to carry out attacks in India. The Naxalites also command a force comprising of 20,000 men. Naxalites oppose any development activities in areas in their stronghold. Critics say that with the millions they collect through extortion, they could easily change the face of rural India.
The growth of Naxalites can also be attributed to the policies of various Governments, be it the BJP or the Congress, none have taken the side of the common people. India continues to neglect its countryside and farmers. The lack of basic needs leads to frustration among people and they join the violence. No concrete step has been taken to check farmer suicides taking place in India. If one observes closely, the areas from where the most suicides are reported are strong holds of Naxalites, with Andhra Pradesh, Vidarbha, Orissa being prime examples.
The armed struggle of Naxalites cannot provide a long lasting solution and some serious steps are needed to crush the Naxalites before they become a menace to our society and security. However, at the same time we need to ensure that gap between ‘Bharat’ (rural) and ‘India’ (urban) is bridged. A nation cannot prosper if a majority of its population is deprived.
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