Saturday, December 26, 2009

An article on Conflict between Naxals and the State

Chhattisgarh, India

The severe conflict between the Naxalites and the state, which is represented by the police, seems to be a continuous and never ending struggle. The big losers are the innocent civilians and the powerless tribal people. Many questions arise regarding to this intriguing topic. What is the philosophy of the Naxalites behind their terrorist attacks? How do the police forces try to combat Naxalism? Does the Salwa Judum play a major role in this conflict? Which side do the media support? And what is the opinion of the NGO’s on this issue? Nange Paon Satyagrah and a Dutch peace-builder conducted field research in Southern Chattisgarh in an attempt to find an answer to these relevant and lasting questions.

The Naxalite movement arose in 1967 in Naxalbari, a village at the Northern edge of West Bengal, due to a peasant uprising that inspired similar movements across India. With the slogan “Land to the tiller!”, the Naxalite movement attracted many urban youth inspired by the call for social justice. Kanu Sanyal and Charu Majumdar, leaders of the Naxalbari movement, split from the Communist Party of India (CPI) and founded the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) in 1969.

Initially the Marxist-Leninist movement was created to fight against moral failures such as feudalism, capitalism and imperialism. The Naxalbari theory of the movement had two components. First, mobilizing and organizing the local people. And second, the annihilation of class enemies. However, by killing individuals they were destroying the people in stead of the supposedly wrong political and economical system. The movement failed to seize land and distribute it to landless peasants and faced some leftist adventurism, which saw the launch of an armed struggle and the indiscriminate killing of individuals. This alienated many ordinary people and reduced popular support for the movement.

Nowadays the Naxalites are often related to the ideology of Mao Zedong, the revolutionary founder of the Communist Party in China in 1949. Mao was able to mobilize the common Chinese people in order to shape a communist society led by his Communist Party. However, the contemporary Naxalites do not seem trying to mobilize the people, and hence it is not a mass movement. Instead they are killing individuals, landlords, policemen and ordinary people. Vishwa Ranjan, Director General of Police of Chattisgarh says: “The Naxalites do not have a proper ideology anymore. They are just irritating the police continuously with random purposes. The police try as hard as possible to ensure the security of the civilians by combating the Naxalites. However, we face severe challenges due to their hidden attacks and a lack of infrastructure.”

Nange Paon Satyagrah thus avoids using the terminology of “Maoist rebels” as the rebels have lost their strong ideology and therefore states that the use of the term Naxalites would be more appropriate. The police are not the only forces, who are intending to combat the Naxalites. Mahendra Karma, a former Congress leader of opposition in the State Legislative Assembly, gave rise to the Salwa Judum movement in 2005, a civilian tribal movement against Naxalism.

Some NGO’s and other people have accused the police of making use of Salwa Judum as a counter-insurgency strategy by turning it in a state-funded militia. However, this allegation is definitely wrong and creates misperceptions, which need to be clarified. Vishwa Ranjan states: “Salwa Judum is a spontaneous movement and the police do not contribute financially or physically to Salwa Judum. The only thing the police do is respecting this movement as it respects all peaceful and democratic people movements”.

Mahendra Karma responds: “The people will have to fight against the tyranny of the Naxalites, because there is no other way left. Therefore we started the Salwa Judum and this movement is organized by and for the people and does not get any support of the police. It is the duty of the police to combat Naxalism. However, the police lack a fighting spirit and do not do enough to combat terrorism. Besides this, the police are bounded by stringent laws and therefore actions taken by them are very slow and have little impact”.

There exists a controversy about the effectiveness of the police. Mahendra Karma states that the police do not work hard enough to combat the problems of Naxalism. Madhu Parvez, director of NGO Triwe, tells that she is doing her job with the tribal people and does not like to cruse paths with either the Naxalites or the police. In her opinion everyone has their own duty and people should not criticize each other about that. Everyone should work as much as possible in their own respective field.

Vinod Tiwari, senior journalist from Jagdalpur, thinks: “The police are doing very good work and the Naxalites are disturbing the area” Nange Paon Satyagrah agrees with Vinod Tiwari, taking into account that the problems of Naxalism have been diminished over the last two years. Society still faces several difficulties with the cruel attacks of the Naxalites, but the situation is definitely improving.

Therefore it is surprising that NGO’s such as Banwasi Shetna ashram are using false propaganda to create misperceptions among the people. Banwasi Shetna ashram state that Salwa Judum is related to Special Police Officers and the relief efforts of the government. As India is proud of being a democratic country it is of vital importance to maintain the debate among civilians, politicians and NGO’s alive. However, one should always be honest and speak the truth. Therefore, this article would take the opportunity to clarify that the police forces work independently from any organization such as the Salwa Judum.

This leads us to the conclusion that every stakeholder has a role to play in society, whether it be the Naxalites (a wrong role, but still a role), the police, the Salwa Judum, the media or the NGO’s. However, everyone should focus on their respective field of work and should do everything in their ability to contribute to the solution of the conflict between the Naxalites and the police. One should not degrade themselves to the spread of false allegations, childish lies and the creation of misconceptions among the common people.

Article by:

Rajesh Sisodia

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