The Other N-Threat

naxalite_training_camp_chhattisgarh_20070205.jpgFor the past two decades, India has seen a violent uprising of sorts in the form of Naxalism, a subject about which little is known to most of us, but which we come across often in the central pages of the newspaper. The word Naxalism, has been derived from Naxalbari, a tiny village of West Bengal where a section of CPI(M) led by Charu Majumdar and Kanu Sanyal sparked a violent uprising in 1967 in order to develop a “revolutionary” opposition to the existing official CPI(M). The ‘revolutionary’ opposition continues till date and has claimed several thousand innocent lives but little is known about it because the lives lost are not those of the rich and the powerful, the victims are the poor peasants, helpless villagers from the illiterate, voiceless and powerless section of the society. The rising rate of insurgency and the Governemnt’s inability to combat the problem has made me wonder what really are the concerns that underlie the issue and which need to be taken up by the nation. The Naxalite Movement is one such “under-hyped” state of affairs where the statistics on the number of lives lost remains a mystery and no efforts are made to unravel it.

Interestingly enough, the Naxalbari movement though it lost steam by early 1970’s had already spread from West Bengal, traversed through Orissa to the northern districts of Andhra Pradesh, to find a natural and more receptive environment among the impoverished, forest and tribal dominated, low-literacy areas of the those regions. Naxalite activity in Andhra Pradesh remained fitful through this decade. The Naxalites have been successful in making inroads precisely in those areas whose population predominantly comprises adivasis, dalits and the landless. A survey says that 90 per cent of them are below poverty line. It is clear, then, that socio-economic factors, such as social injustice and discrimination, lack of access to land, want of livelihood, tyranny of landlords, higher castes and money-lenders, and insensitivity of not only bureaucrats and the police, but also the ruling political class to the plight of the underprivileged and disadvantaged sections, provide the fertile breeding ground for violent movements like Naxalism.

The Naxalites operate in vacuum created by the absence of administrative and political institutions, adopt the local demands and take advantage of the disillusionment prevalent among the exploited segments of the population and seek to offer a alternative system of governance which promises liberation of these segments from the clutches of authoritative and ‘exploiter’ classes through the barrel of a gun. The Naxalite leadership continues to pursue their plan to wage a protracted people’s war, an armed struggle to capture political power. In the recent past, Naxalite groups seem to lay greater focus on organizing themselves along military lines. They are also acquiring contemporary weapons. Their constant effort is to upgrade technology and add sophisticated weaponry and techniques. A recent report tells us that Naxals are an expert in making arms and ammunitions. The Naxalite ideology is difficult to understand because of its various complications and several variations but it is clear that the use of guerilla tactics and increasing fearlessness displayed by the insurgent group poses a huge problem for the country. Their masquerading in military outfits to take advantage of their position and confuse people also creates an element of distrust among the public.

The Naxalite Movement, is something, which, if not tackled soon enough, would go out of hand and adversely affect the socio-economic development of the country. The victims of this movement are poor and helpless, and so are the pioneers of this movement, let us not misunderstand either party, it is imperative that we give them a chance to speak up, listen to their demands, create more fruitful employment opportunities to bring the situation under control. Otherwise there will be an internal division, which will just proliferate, lead to class differences which will become impossible to bridge.