Armed action against internal unrest?
Posted by Admin on August 12, 2009
Source: Vikash Priyadarshini
‘Lalgarh’ has once again brought forth the issue of Naxalism. Prime Minister Mr. Manmohan Singh quoted Naxals as ‘the biggest threat’ to our internal security. Questions that need to be answered before we go deeper into the debate are: What is Naxalism? What is the ideology behind this movement? From where it started, who propagated it? Why people are being part of this movement? What is their objective? For whom are they sacrificing their lives? Who are their enemies – political parties, capitalists, government? What makes them fight?
Naxalism is like a black box which had not been explored properly for years. Numerous definitions and reasons have been given by the people across the world to this violent movement. However in Indian context, it can be summarized as ‘the anger of masses against oppression’.
About three fourth of Indian population reside in villages. And most of these villages are just unaware of India success story, as the development boom and the buzz have still not touched these villages at all. So how successful this development story has been for India? Should this development should be limited to the urban India or should it be extended to the masses, to the people who can appreciate the worth to each single penny?
For past 60 odd years central government had been making a lot of policies for the upliftment of these areas indeed a fortune had been spent on paper for development of these areas. But the policies are decided by the people sitting in huge offices sitting far away from the village and masses. Making a policy and getting it implemented are mutually exclusive events, with the corruption at its best in these areas all recourses dry out before reaching the ground level. If you look at the red corridor across India, you would find that these are the most backward areas of the country. All the development indexes are pointing to zero in these areas. The majority (as much as 70%) of people work as landless labourers in the fields. Social evils like caste system are still very dominant. Places of worship, houses of upper caste people, schools and health facilities are still out of bounds for these lower caste people. There is no voice of these people at any level or forums. They are treated as no-ones or non existents in the society at all times.
This was the kind of ground conditions which form the breading ground for the Marxist ideology. Naxalites for a change treated these lower caste people with respect and equality. Naxalites act like Robin Hood and following policy of take from the rich and give to the poor. They would surely be respected and heavily supported by the locals who never even dreamt of getting some respect in society. This can be very well figured out form this statement of a Maoist captured in Bengal “Sir, I am from a lower caste. In my village high caste people would not even allow me to walk on their shadows. But now I sit on a charpoy and they sit below on the ground. Because I am a Maobadi.”
If we look at how these Maoists work, it is quiet interesting that they have their own “Jantana Sarkar”, a parallel government. Staying in deep forests at all times they have proper well defined departments namely education and culture, finance, law, defence, agriculture, forest conservation, health and sanitation and public relations. They collect taxes from the local villagers based on the produces these villagers have, if there is low yield then they don’t collect taxes at all. With minimal infrastructure in place, they work with the mobile government and mobile departments. Comrade Pandu says no established offices exist yet, but their “mobile government” runs the show. “The Jantana Sarkar is in an embryonic stage but when the People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army establishes control, we will form a regular government,” he promises. He explains why there is no land department. “We have already carried out land reforms and redistributed land such that you will not find a single landless person here,” says Pandu. The Jantana Sarkar also settles family disputes. “In the past three years we have settled about 200 disputes between brothers, husbands-wives, neighbours. In fact, if you check with the local police, you will not find a single FIR filed,” he claims. Once the people’s court pronounces a judgement, the guilty is held in custody and ”carried around” in mobile jails till deemed fit to be released. The Maoists fund their government with tax collections from villagers. The amount is decided on basis of the crop. Last year, for instance, no taxes were levied because the crop failed.
If we are talking about this kind of facilities and processes that are in place, local support is more than evident in it, as no mass movement can be sustained for over 4 decades without support from local public. The kind of terrorising and brutal activities that government claims, Naxalites support and indulge in can surely not be the complete picture. Had that been the case then there should had been reduced support and reduced activities from the naxal front, but on the contrary the case is quiet opposite of it.
The government spends large amount of money for countering naxalites. According to Former Chief minister of Chhatisgarh Mr. Ajit Jogi if all the money spent in Bastar since 1947 were added up and totalled with interest, there will be 1 crore for every family in the district. But even today the whole of the area is untouched. No roads, no electricity, no medical facilities, no communication as if Man never lived there. Government after government had been spending money like crazy to tackle a mere symptom while in the process totally forgetting about the actual cause of illness.
I feel that government should use the money and machinery it has in place, to create the basic infrastructure, like roads and electricity. As when these areas will have easy access to the world, not only the security forces can move easily, it will help the local people also. For example the dairy product that these local villagers produce, they have to sell currently at local market at very low prices of Rs. 3-4 per litre. If these villages have easy and regular access to cities in the area, their produce can be sold at the market price, so for the same milk produce without much investment they can earn up to Rs 20-25 per litre. With this, they will surely rise in economic condition. And milk is just an example; these areas are rich in other forest related products like Cashew etc. which are of high value in the national markets.
With this basic infrastructure in place, the policy makers should also focus on education, as due to the armed unrest for past 40 years, most centres of education had been destroyed or are being used for other purposes like relief camps or training camps etc. With increase in education levels, these tribal’s can also be empowered as today even if we have reservation for these tribes in whole country, these people who desperately need its benefits can not use it to their advantage.Initially naxalites will surly try disrupting the development work, but if government can use its forces efficiently in securing these developments, I feel the villagers will observe immediate benefits of these investments and will start supporting government against naxalites.
But for this kind of initiative the governments have to have a long term view of the problem, instead of looking for the quick results that can be flaunted all over after every five years. So a strong political will along with a humanitarian approach can surely solve the problem for good. It might take a long time, but then Rome was not built in a day.