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Arrest won’t end Naxal movement’: Varavara Rao

Posted by Admin on September 24, 2009

Varavara raoDaipayan Halder Date: 2009-09-24 Place: Delhi

Poet, professor and Marxist critic, Varavara Rao has been the face of the Naxalite movement in Andhra Pradesh for almost four decades now. In an exclusive interview with Daipayan Halder, he spoke on Kobad Ghandy’s arrest and the future of the Naxal movement

Kobad Ghandy is a prize catch for security agencies. Is it a body blow to the movement?
Kobad is a central committee member of the CPI (Maoist) and a top ideologue. It is undoubtedly a huge loss for the movement. But one leader getting arrested won’t affect naxalism. But it is a loss to the ideological debate within the party.

Hard Talk: Varavara RaoAre you saying it is more an ideological loss than a strategic loss? The police seem confident of getting vital information out of him.
In our party, it is the same thing. Ideology and strategy are not watertight compartments. And as I said, the police won’t be able to end naxalism by arresting one leader.

Naxal leaders have been arrested in the past. But is the obsession with Kobad due to his Doon-Oxford education?
Of course it is. Kobad makes a good headline. He should have been a bureaucrat or a corporate head. He became a naxal instead! People are curious.

Is naxalism losing its charm in cities? Would there be a Kobad Ghandy now?
There will be many Kobads. It is only the petty, bourgeoisie youth who are taking to the market economy. The marginalised youth, i.e. the Muslims, the Dalits and the tribals, are not swayed by market forces because they can see inequality is rising. They are attracted to the movement. But there is no campus culture today. You can get a degree through distance education without ever walking into a university campus. In a campus, there is scope for healthy political debates. That culture is dying.

But how can the urban youth be interested when naxalism has been branded as the biggest internal security threat?
The State is the biggest terrorist. In Andhra Pradesh, more than in any other state, atrocities have been the worst. If you are a Naxalite, a naxal sympathiser, an ideologue, or simply a civil rights activist, you can be put behind bars or killed in a fake encounter any time.

In 1992, for example, journalist Gulam Rasul wrote about a land scam in an Urdu daily. An additional DSP killed him in a fake encounter and branded him a Naxalite. His friend who was traveling with him in a scooter was also killed. Doctors working for the underprivileged, lawyers taking up the causes of the marginalised are being put behind bars. Civil liberties are being curbed like never before.

But the Centre also agrees that naxalism is a developmental issue.
These are academic talks. (Prime Minister) Manmohan Singh says it is a developmental issue, but he is also supporting SEZs. SEZs will displace people, take away livelihoods. So the problems will persist. Look at what is happening at Nandigram, at Singur, at all other places. Naxalism will be alive till such problems are solved.

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