Naxalism … from terror to horror

For any country securing its people and its boundaries from any outside invader is at most priority. Many countries of the world suffer from internal extremism, which is slowly becoming terrorism. Naxalism in India is the result of such extremism, which has become a threat to internal security and has spread to less developed areas of rural southern and eastern India like Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.

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Image 1: Statistics of Red corridor

Which was started as a movement against Zamindars ( landlords) and their atrocities on the local farmers which later turned into arm revolt and now Naxalites are just using the name for there benefits which are nowhere concerned with the farmers or tribal people.

Who are Naxalites and what is their ideology

A Naxal or a Naxalites is a member of the Communist Party of India (Maoist). It is considered to be the far left-radical communist, supportive of the political ideology and sentiment of Maoist. Naxalism is the unofficial name of that armed movement of the communist party of India which was started by Charu Majumdar, Kanu Sanyal and Jangal Santhal against power.

The term NAXAL derives from the name of that village Naxalbari, in West Bengal where the 1st spark of movement happened on May 24, 1967.

Incident which sparks the Naxal movement

The Naxal movement was started from a small village in West Bengal named Naxalbari in 1967. On May 18, 1967, Siliguri Kisan Sabha chaired by Jangal Santhal declared their support to the armed movement started by Kanu Sanyal. In the next week of the Kisan Sabha, a peasant who has the judicial order to plough his land was attacked by men of the landlord over a land dispute. The objective of the movement was to rightfully distribute the land to the working peasants. on 24 May 1967, Police team was sent by the state government to maintain law order and order them to action against the rebellions. Police opened fire on villagers and firing killed 9 adults and 2 children. As a result of this, a group of tribals under the leadership of Jangal Santhal attacked the Police team who had come to arrest the leader of peasants. In that attacked a police inspector was killed in hails of arrows. After this incident, many Santhal tribals and poor people encouraged to take part in the movement and start attacking local landlords.

The movement was started by Charu Majumdar, and he was influenced by the ideology of Mao Zedong and hence more than often Naxalism is interchanged with the word Maoism. Over the years insurgent groups forked into many insurgents groups, and all traced their ideology from the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist).

The foundation of CPI(ML) was announced by Kanu Sanyal at Calcutta meet of AICCCR on Lenin’s Birthday i.e. on April 22, 1969. CPI(ML) was formed by the radicals within the CPI(M) who was upset from the parliamentary politics of CPI(M). They alleged that the CPI(M) party leadership was turning towards revisionism and simultaneously a debate ensued which finally let to the expulsion of the radicalised faction within the CPI(M) and led to the formation of CPI(ML). CPI(ML) was in favour of armed revolution and denounced participation in the electoral process.

Causes of rising and growth of Naxalism

The Naxal movement started against the atrocities done by the rich landlords on the poor peasants. Those poor were deprived of their only means of livelihood by these landlords who snatch their lands illegally, the government also not helped them. In an all poverty, unemployment, lack of education are the major cause of the rise of Naxalism.

Growth

The region, over which the Naxalites have established their presence, is marked by widespread poverty, corruption, unemployment, lack of development, poor governance and an under-equipped police force. In many of these areas, the state machinery either does not exist or has a very limited existence. Naxalites fill the vacuum and exploit the poor performance of the institutions of governance on issues such as land rights, minimum wages, education and anti-corruption.

And in one way or the other below reasons helps Naxalism to grow

  • Social Inequalities. Atrocities, subjugation, discriminatory treatment of Dalits and lower caste peasants by the upper caste landlords continue to be very common in Naxalite affected parts of the country.
  • Economic Deprivation. There are extreme poverty and utter lack of economic development in many parts of the country. The landlords do not follow the stipulated minimum wage rule as laid down by the government.
  • Infrastructure Inadequacies. The areas affected by the Naxal movement are one of the richest in terms of natural resources. Even then, these areas have not seen any infrastructure development and continue to remain neglected by the authorities.
  • Tribal and Forest Policies. The primitive methods of cultivation have left the tribal people economically fear behind in comparison with other peasants. The tribals have been denied their traditional means of livelihood and hence, their only means of survival has been taken away from them in the name of our forest policies.
  • Inadequate Governance. It is a known fact that in many of these areas, there is no governance at all and the state and civil administrative infrastructure are virtually non-existent.

Consequences

The consequences of this movement are already in front of us, in the Naxal hit area,

  • Development is completely derailed, people are not able to get basic facilities due to these Naxalites. There is no development from an economic perspective, education is also not good in these areas.
  • Naxalites curbed the infrastructure development of these areas, they attack the worker and stopped the work.
  • Tax collection and revenue generation from these areas are low as Naxals prevents the governing body to do so.
  • Lower domestic investment and higher expenditure on defence at the cost of lower expenditure on education and health.
  • Naxalism become an internal security threat for the country, and we have lost many of our security personnel in the encounters between them and Naxals.
  • Along with security personnel civilians are also killed. In past 20 years total 12,183 people killed, 9,471 were civilians and 2,712 central and state security force personnel.
  • As Naxalites do not believe in the electoral process they have always attempted to disrupt elections thereby not only preventing masses from choosing their leaders but also inhibiting them from exercising their fundamental right to vote.

The Naxals enjoy immense support among the lower strata of the society in what is known as the Red Corridor, a collection of states with active Naxalism( which is shown in image 1)

  1. Forest (Conservation) Act 1980 placed the reserved forests of the entire country in the hands of the Centre. This rule led to the eviction of many Adivasis from the forests and their frequent abuse at the hands of forest officers. The Naxalites stepped into such disputes and provided protection to these Adivasis from the forest officers as well as eviction from their habitat. This is a perfect example of the adversities attached to centralization.
  2. The law and administration provide no succour to displaced people and treats them with hostility since such internally displaced forest dwellers tend to settle down again in some forest region which is prohibited. The Naxalite movement has come to the aid of such victims. One such example was the displacement of Adivasis by irrigation projects in Orissa who migrated to the forests of Andhra Pradesh. Without Naxal intervention, these adivasis would have been evicted by forest officials from there as well.
  3. The Minimum Wages Act remains an act on paper for most of rural India. It is reported that the Naxalites have ensured payment of decent wages to the labourers. A famous example of this is the increase in payment rates secured by the Naxalites for tendu leaf pickers used for rolling beedis.
  4. The pressure exerted by the Naxalite movement has had some effect in ensuring proper attendance of teachers, doctors etc. in Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Chattisgarh.
  5. The slogan of the Naxalites from the beginning has been ‘land to the tillers’. Their fear nearly brought an end to the absentee landlordism system although this activity is still prevalent in some places.
  6. Partly because of the efforts of the government and partly because of the Naxal threat bonded labour or ‘begar’ (bonded labour) has been nearly abolished.

Does the above example say that the path is chosen by the Naxals to meet their demands right? Does this imply that the gore killings of innocent people who have nothing to do with the problem of Naxalism justified? Certainly not. But at the same time, Government and local authorities need to work more in direction of wellness of local people living in Naxal hit areas. The Naxal movement started because of the socio-economical inequality of the society, hence government need to make such policies which don’t harm the tribals in the name of development. Today Naxalism is used as a weapon against the government but the motive behind it is not the same as it was at the time of the start of the movement. India is a democratic country and in any democracy, insurgency should not be tolerated.