By Sajjad Shaukat
Failed in coping with the Maoist insurgency, new operations of the Indian security forces have exposed the helplessness of India. In this regard, in the recent past, Home Minister P. Chidamabram said that the Indian government “welcomes peace talks with Maoist rebels.” On the other side, the CNN-IBN news channel quoted Ramanna, a Maoist leader in Chhattisgarh state, as saying over the phone that the government should first withdraw thousands of paramilitary soldiers, deployed to fight the rebels and create peaceful conditions for talks.
However, peace talks have been offered by the New Delhi after the Maoist insurgents ambushed a bus on May 17, this year that killed 45 police officers and civilians who were returning after an operation, killing two Maoists. The event has highlighted the Maoists’ strength despite a government offensive aimed at ending one of Asia’s longest militancy.
Besides, on May 26, Maoist militants sabotaged a high-speed train in eastern India, killing at least 65 people after it smashed into the path of a goods train.
In fact, Maoist uprising which has taken the form of armed struggle is indigenous. It has become an unending insurgency due to the injustices and state terrorism perpetrated by the rich Hindus and Indian security forces.
Maoist movement initially started by its leader, Mupala Luxman Rao in 1969 in the form of peasant uprising in West Bengal, protesting against big Hindu landlords who left no stone unturned in molesting the poor people through their mal-treatment such as forced labour, minimum wages, maximum work, unlawful torture and even killings—the evils one could note prior to the Frech Revolution of 1789 when fedual lords had practised similar injustices on the farmers.
Nevertheless, instead of redressing the grievances of the peasants and workers, Indian security forces in connivance with the rich-dominated society used the forces of state terrorism in crushing the Maoist movement. The Maoists had no choice, but to launch an armed struggle for their genuine rights.
The Naxalite-Maoists, as they call themselves, are the liberators, representing landless farmers and the downtrodden masses who have been entangled into vicious circle of poverty, misery and deprivation. The Indian indiscriminate social order treats them resentfully, setting aside human dignity and self-respect. It is owing to the continued inequalities that Maoists have appealed to the sentments of the helpless poor, who found their future dark under the susequent regimes led by so-called democratic forces of India. According to a report, “Out of total 1.17 billion populations, over 39% of dispossessed Indians, living below poverty line are hopeful that Maoists would bring a change in their wretched lives.”
Ideologically, the Naxalites are against the current Indian state. They believe that Indians have yet need freedom from hunger and deprivation, and from the exploitation of the poor by the rich classes of landlords, industrialists and traders who control the means of production. Due to these reasons, Maoists target all representatives of the state like politicians, the police and other officials. At local level, they target village functionaries and landlords.
Having its voice unheard, Maoist movement which had been raging in West Bengal, Bihar, Orissa, Jharkand, Chattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh, has expanded to Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Now, it is a popular movement which has massive support of people for its ideology.
In the recent months, Maoist insurgency has intensified enveloping new areas. An Indian government assessment admits that the Naxalite influence has extended over a third of the country.
Notably, Maoist movement has become a violent struggle because of the use of undue force by the Indian security forces. In this regard, on October 31, 2009, The New York Times wrote, “India’s Maoist rebels are now present in 20 states and have evolved into a potent insurgency. In the last four years, the Maoists have killed more than 900 Indian security officers…violence erupts almost daily.” The Times explained, “If the Maoists were once dismissed as a ragtag band of outdated ideologies, Indian leaders are now preparing to deploy nearly 70,000 paramilitary officers for a prolonged counterinsurgency campaign to hunt down the guerrillas in some of the country’s most rugged terrain…the Maoists represent the dispossessed of Indian society, particularly the indigenous tribal groups, who suffer some of the country’s highest rates of poverty, illiteracy and infant mortality…India’s rapid economic growth has made it an emerging global power but also deepened stark inequalities in society. Maoists accuse the government of trying to push tribal groups off their land to gain access to raw materials and have sabotaged roads, bridges and even an energy pipeline.”
BBC had reported on October 12, 2009, “In response to the atrocities of the Indian police, Maoist rebels had blown up culverts and cut electricity to railways in various regions during two-day strike.”
Naxalite insurgency known as Red Corridor has become so popular that India is actively considering shifting 23 battalions of para-military forces from occupied Kashmir to the Maoist affected areas.
Surprisingly, in the recent past, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh admitted in a meeting of police chiefs saying: “his country is losing the battle against Maoist rebels…violence is increasing” and “Maoists have growing appeal among a large section of Indian society including tribal communities, the rural poor and the intelligentsia.”
While on the one hand, Indian rulers realise the real causes of Maoist uprising, but still accuse China of backing the Maoist guerrilla warfare. They have started a series of allegaion against Beijing in this connection. Some Indian high officials misperceive that China supplies armes and ammuniton to Maoists in neighbouring Nepal where Chinese command strong influence. According to some recent Indian accusation, New Delhi believe that Nepali Maoists and Indian Maoists have formed a nexus duly supported by Beijing. With the covert support of Indian secret agency, RAW, Indians also propagate that there are secret training camps in China, which teach tactics of guerrilla warfare to the Maoists, and then they are being despatched to India.
There is no doubt that Maoists of India are fighting for the basic rights of lower and middle classes, which have been usurped by the upper classes supported by the Indian government. Just as we have noted in case of some other states of India, especially in the occupied Kashmir where struggle of liberation continues in one or the other way—when people take to arms, there is going to be all kinds of violence by the freedom fighters and the revolutionaries. So Indian so-called democratic systemis responsible for the drastic situation it has created.
Moreover, Maoist guerrilla commandershave been providing basic military training to local youths in West Bengal. They use weapons which they have snatched from the installations of Indian security forces. Since their struggle, they have kidnapped a number of personnel of the armed forces. Some poor persons, serving in the Indian forces have also provided them with arms and ammunition.
Sajjad Shaukat is a regular writer for Opinion Maker. He writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations