…ministers tell us Maoists are biggest threat to country’s security. Did they tell perpetrators of atrocities on them and the whole political lobby, representing dynasts, rich, musclemen,and keeping door shut for a downtrodden to get into politics is a threat to country? Is this the suitable ground to bring rebels to dialogue table and social mainstream…
One of our ministers, a Harvard alumni, appealed to Maoists rebels with his familiar gentleness, ‘Abjure violence’. Many of us cosmopolitan denizens with dual gift of brains and calmness found enormous substance in his words. A few days later, his colleague, this one too an erudite professional, came out with a radical idea to raise class twelfth cut-off marks to take IIT-JEE. There was sharp opposition to him, instantly, exactly as commentariat unitedly put its collective efforts to tell us why US President Barack Obama doesn’t deserve Nobel Prize for Peace. Apparently, we, as a civil society, are quite vocal about discrimination against us but equally apathetic to that against others, those we cannot identify ourselves with. Well, the topic of this column is not prejudice but equality, opportunity and optimism – a living hope seen in someone of betterment.
Why did Naxalites not respond to Home Minister P Chidambaram’s frequent, seductive pleas to come to a dialogue table? Over decades we’ve created a society, a system, a tradition in the backdrop of which any proposal of talks, to rebels, seems unreliable in the first place, with its most probable fallout being a fizzle-out.
I’m not a fan of Maoist rebels, nor even an ideological backer of their theory that liberty, justice, and equity can be attained by a violent movement. How can they be in a country, freedom struggle of which is largely a success of non-violent movements? But come to think of it: why did Naxalites not respond to Home Minister P Chidambaram’s frequent, seductive pleas to come to a dialogue table? Why did comforting statements such as ‘Naxalites are not secessionists’, ‘Rebels don’t get foreign funds’, and ‘Maoists need to be treated differently’, and endeavours of development initiated in Naxal-infested tribal belts draw a blank to lure rebels back into social main stream, let alone eliminating their tribal support base? Rather, naxal violence gets more nerve wracking, cops are decapitated, Taliban fashion.
Commentariat reasons that rebels are unnerved fearing a most likely army offensive and so have stepped up violence. I don’t back this theory. They’re, in all likelihood, have larger picture on their mind and more things on platter. They not only hanker after freedom from atrocities but also equal opportunities of upward mobility. Over decades we’ve created a society, a system, a tradition in the backdrop of which any proposal of talks, to rebels, seems unreliable in the first place, with its most probable fallout being a fizzle-out. How can rebels on the planet earth be persuaded – or expected – to lay down arms when a long six decades story of their land grab for the purpose of dams, factories, mines etc is a ceaseless saga, expanding everyday, forwarding in a new face. Why should politicians make a call to them to abjure violence as long as political parties are adamant on representing dynasties, unduly favouring industrialists and aristocrats, giving undeserved weightage to those loading in money, sheltering gundas, nurturing casteism, and so on. Where is the space in Indian political spectrum that they can occupy or fit in? Over becoming goons to act for netas, they’ve chosen to turn rebels to challenge the authoritarian ruling class.
Identical reasons explain their no-response to calls for fighting elections as a political party. Utter word ‘election’ and what comes to your mind – an expensive exercise which a common man of a city, not only a downtrodden or a tribe, can even dream to afford; an activity dominated by muscle power in non-urban areas; a democratic process which is still far from being ‘free and fair’. A section of discontented, resourceless people – for whom there’s no place in any political party, national or regional – can, of course, float their own party but cannot take on the powerful ruling class in elections. The very fact that Maoists have funded their movement by extortion hitherto goes on to show that there is not a donor of funds for a political party that is formed of powerless, resourceless, classless people of socialist framework of mind.
Like great men and legends, Naxals are not born, either. In places inaccessible, where there is no road, no school, no hospital, no electricity, no job, and no bread, people turn rebels. Pacifiers like development of infrastructure or compensation following a land acquisition are nothing short of a farce. Rebels and their tribal support base won’t fall for them. What they want is a big change. A share in development, a participation in politics and decision-making.
Unfortunately, it’s only wrong signals that we’ve sent to them so far in reaction to their violence. There exists a negative campaign – or, perhaps, propaganda – in urbanized, metropolis society against them, launched exclusively by our netas and media. Day in and day out, what our prime minister, home minister and UPA chairmmperson tell us about the Maoists – that ‘Maoists are misguided youth’, that ‘Naxalites are the biggest threat to country’s internal security’. Did they ever cry about the humanity’s worst atrocities inflicted on these ‘misguided people and biggest threats’? Why did we never hear that perpetrators of these atrocities are ‘misguided’ and ‘are the biggest threat to country’s internal security’? Why did no politician ever tell us that their entire lobby, inaction, apathy, decadence of which is a major cause of naxalite upheaval, is a ‘living threat to not only country’s internal security but its whole well-being?
Is this an ideal, suitable ground we should make to bring rebels to a dialogue table and social main stream? Reading Forbes, watching channel V, eating pizzas, and reveling in pleasures of multiplexes and discos, it’s quite easy to brand hungry, deprived, exploited but armed people as ‘rebel’, ‘misguided’.
What concrete steps did government take to ready a ground to persuade rebels to lay down arms? Is there any significant progress on land reforms? Did government, or, any other political party take an initiative to convene an internal or an all-party conference to discuss how they can make their parties and the politics at large more inclusive,with dynasts out and common man in.
So here is the question of government’s answers: Since June when an offensive had to be launched against Maoists in Lalgarh, what concrete steps did government take to ready a ground to persuade rebels to lay down arms? Is there any significant progress on land reforms so that land of tribes is not acquired by rapacious industries for their ambitious projects? Did government, or any other political party, for that matter, take an initiative to convene an internal or an all-party conference to discuss how they can make their parties and the politics at large more inclusive, with easy ways available to people from common background but merit to move upward, with strict check on demerited dynasts getting undue advantage, with commitment to keep goons out of politics, with caste not being considered as a ground for fielding someone. Political parties could have resolved not to provide unjust favours to industries for any purpose.
These could have been enough steps to send a message to Naxalites that government, political parties and netas feel for them and are willing to solve their problems; in fact, enacting a revolution themselves which Naxalites aim at. This is what will bring them to a dialogue table. Yourself change what rebels want to change.
There have to be some attempts at social level, as well. I, when I was in college, had some classmates hailing from Naxal-infested areas of Chhattisgarh. They surprised me by telling that Naxalites are there not only in inaccessible regions but they are in every sphere of life, even in government organizations and private jobs, all unidentifiable and living among us. This calls for a social change. A change to give opportunity to all and sundry without discrimination. We observe such prejudices everyday. We unite against weaker people and treat laborious and talented with hatred and envy. We will do everything to cause impediment in their path to progress for a simple reason that they are nation builder but cosily kowtow to undeserving rich and powerful, even assist them to progress, no matter they are the real rot in the system.
All this has to undergo a radical change. Unless a universal equality of opportunity is established, there’ll be no stopping class violence and Naxalism.