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Politics, Wretched Politics

June 19, 2009

Lalgarh, West Bengal is in news. The Maoists have taken over and control the area around Lalgarh. Indian police and paramilitary along with some crack commandos who specialize in jungle warfare are being rushed to the place. The Maoists have not only taken over the place but also killed a few CPI (M) leaders. Their houses have been demolished and torched. On getting to know about the police action, the Maoist leaders have withdrawn to safer climes.

Maoist attacks in India have been going on for sometimes now. This is almost a decade long ‘war’ if one may call that. There is no chronology available of these vicious attacks. There have been attempts by some news agencies to make a chronology of Maoist attacks in India but these are woefully inadequate. For the simple reason that these agencies are skeptical of government claims and many a times the attacks go unreported as these are in far flung areas with little connectivity. There is one site, however, that seems to have kept a steady watch over the movement of these naxals/Maoists –

The Maoist menace started in the late nineties. They came from Nepal, the land of Prachanda and spread their tentacles in Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh and parts of Maharashtra. They have now infiltrated into eastern Uttar Pradesh and are trying hard to gain a foothold in western Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab. These are Left terrorists that have their moorings in the communist rhetoric and the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi is the breeding ground of these left radicals (Prachanda, the Nepalese Maoist leader and former president is also an alumni of the JNU).  These left radicals have the Shining Path of Peru as their beacon light. One can deduce as to what havoc they can wreck on a nation if they were to succeed in their aims. The abject poverty of rural India helps them as the poor and the marginal see in them saviors who can help them get rid of those who are out to exploit them. These left terrorists are heavily armed and have latest arms and ammunition at their disposal. They are particularly adept at laying landmines. One such landmine blast almost killed Chandrababu Naidu, the former chief minister of Andhra Pradesh. He escaped with a broken arm. His bullet proof car was what saved him.

When these left radicals strike, they strike with venom. They come in droves – men, women and children and they attack with such ferocity that it leaves the victims stunned for days. They cut all communication lines, kill the policemen and other government officials, take away their arms and lay siege for days. They have instituted kangaroo courts in interior jungles where it is difficult for government officials to reach on a regular basis. They came as saviors but soon the people found that they were as much a parasite as the other landlords and moneylenders. The rhetoric failed to impress the people and they started resenting the influence of the Maoists. The government saw in this an opportunity and it started arming the tribal and villagers. This force which was raised to fight the Maoists was called Salwa Judum (all together). These village committees to thwart Maoist menace have become quite powerful and have helped in the fight against these Left radicals.

The Maoists were seldom criticized by the Left parties. They brushed aside the atrocities of the Maoists as ‘class struggle’. In fact Brinda Karat, a member of the CPI(M) Politburo and the wife of the party chief, Prakash Karat was indignant as to how the government could tolerate a ‘government within a government’ – referring to the raising of Salwa Judums to counter the Maoists. For years the Maoists were encouraged on the sly by the Left parties as they saw in them an ideological partner. It was only later when the Maoists aligned with Mamta Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress during the Nandigram riots and Singur fiasco that they started raising their voices. The problem is that there is now a turf war between the Left parties and the Maoists. Trinamool Congress and the Congress Party know that they cannot dismantle the Left edifice in Bengal on their own. They are pitting the Maoists who are heavily armed against the ruling Left coalition. The recent Lok Sabha elections have shown that the strategy has worked. The intention of the Maoists was clear when they attacked Buddhdeb Bhattacharya’s convoy and the chief minister luckily escaped the attack. Since then it has been downhill for the comrades in arms. The Left parties while calling them terrorists are refraining from getting too shrill in their condemnation of their Left ideological brothers – the Maoists. The Trinamool and the Congress cannot believe their luck that there is a schism in the ranks of the Leftists. There had been clashes between the CPI( M) and CPI(ML) in the past and even the Nandigram clashes were between these two warring groups with Trinamool workers on the side of the Marxist-Leninists but there were also some Maoists that had joined the ranks . It is becoming clear that the Centre and the Trinamool have ganged up against the Buddhadeb Bhattacharya government and they want to get to the Writer’s Building by hook or by crook. That is not to absolve of the ruling CPI (M) as a pious, going-by-the-book kind of party. They have unleashed terror over the decades and their cadres are goons who would not let the common Bengalees cast their vote. For decades the elections in Bengal have been a farce. But the methodology adopted by the Congress and the Trinamool will come to haunt them in the years to come. They are riding a tiger and it will only be a matter of time before the Maoists ask for their pound of flesh, once the Trinamool along with the Congress comes to power. It will be Punjab revisited when Indira Gandhi created the demon – Bhindrawale to counter the Akali influence in Punjab. How Punjab burned for more than a decade is something that few have forgotten.

This time however, the stakes are much higher. Bhindrawale was a one man army. It is true that separatist Sikhs were sponsored by Pakistan later on, but the story of the Maoists runs much deeper. The influence of these Left radicals is not limited to a few pockets or any one state. They have infiltrated among the backward and the tribal across states and their aim is to take over the state per se (a couple of young women Maoist recruiters were apprehended by the police when they were found trying to recruit workers 150 miles from Delhi). They get their sustenance from across the Himalayas and the money, the logistics and the arms are also of foreign origin. The Maoists appeared in Nepal and they came down the hills to India. The Nepalese story is well known. Here in India also they plan to take over the country by force. They are aiming at a revolution, as these Leftists usually do but their designs are more sinister. One must understand that the genesis of this problem is the fall of the Soviet Union. The geo-political realities changed and India found herself being drawn towards the Western powers. The West wanted to contain China and India was as good a foil as any to the mighty dragon. The Chinese see India as a threat and to engage India they not only ensured a nuclear Pakistan but also started working towards weakening India from within. They found the CPI (M) too much involved in politics to be able to take to the gun. They therefore raised their own force – the Maoists. The King of Nepal along with his family was murdered. The Maoists took over the country. The tug of war between India and China, vis-à-vis their influence in Nepal took an ugly turn. But that was not the end of the story – the Maoists infiltrated India in a big way such that they have been threatening the Indian state. The Indian army has said categorically that it was not their job to fight insurgency. They have however, offered to train and give logistical support to any police, paramilitary or special forces raised to counter the Maoists.  Whatever happens in Lalgarh, the fact remains that the Maoists menace is not something that can be wished away. The CPI (M) may still be mollycoddling the Maoists in the hope of winning them over, and the Trinamool and the Congress may be instigating them to ensure the demise of the Left Front government in West Bengal, but the fact remains that such extreme ultra outfits are friends of none. They are playing a game for their masters in lands yonder and their aims are different. All Indian political parties must think twice before courting any such radicals who are ready to eat into the vitals of our country.

Update: Investigators on Friday told a Delhi court that Mohd Omar Madni, a suspected militant, has disclosed about the links between Pakistan-based terror outfit Lashker-e-Taiba and Maoists in Jharkhand. Source: Press Trust of India. This is not surprising in the least. Indian Home Minister, P. Chidambaram, sometime back, talked about India being encircled by a ‘ring of fire’. He went on to add that he hoped that India will not be singed by it. India will have to be very alert to threats to her and one prerequisite is to keep the national interest above narrow political considerations. The worrying part is that this does not seem to be happening.

Update 21.06.2009: There was a landmine explosion destroying a vehicle carrying CRPF personnel near Dantewada in Chattisgarh, yesterday. Eleven CRPF men were killed and ten injured, three critically. Dantewada is a Maoist stronghold and it seems that they are trying to send the message that while the government is busy in Lalgarh, there are other areas where they are active too. The situation is grim also because the Maoists have given a call for bandh in the states of Bihar, Jharkhand, Chattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and parts of West Bengal on the 22nd and 23rd of this month.

Update 23.06.2009: The Government of India has said that the Maoists are terrorists. The GOI has further banned the Maoists. Remarkably, the CPI(M) have protested against the ban saying such a ban will have no positive outcome. They see this as an assault on the Left in India. This is what the Left has been doing all these years – they have been cuddling the Maoists even when they have wrought havoc on the state and the country. The fact is that there is little to choose between the two. Their decibel levels go up when there is any mention of Bajrang Dal and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad. To equate the VHP and the Bajrang Dal with the Maoists is gross injustice to the Hindu organizations who have never resorted to violence such that they killed anyone. The Maoists on the other hand have unleashed a war against the state and have killed more than 2000 people just last year. More people have been killed by the Maoists than in the insurgency ridden Kashmir.

Update 24.06.2009: The Maoists have said that they are ‘ready for talks’ with the government. I do not know what the state and the central government plan to do. But were they to start talking to this terrorist outfit, they will give them legitimacy which they are desparately seeking. Government would do well to keep up the pressure on these ultras, dismantle their infrastructure and cut off their supply of money and arms.

Update 29.10.2009: There has been a spate of abductions and killings by the Maoists since the Lalgarh incident. The latest intransigence by the Maoists was when they hijacked the Bhubaneshwar-Delhi Rajdhani Express in the jungles of West Bengal. They kept the train stationary for more than 4 hours and did not allow the driver to run the train. The passengers were told to sit out in the open. The train was damaged and graffiti scribbled on the train asking for the release of their leader Chattradhar Mahato. Later in the FIR lodged in the nearest GRP post the Maoists or the People’s Committee against Police Atrocities (PCPA), a Maoists front organization was also not mentioned. The API reported this incident thus:

The First Information Report that was filed against the hijackers of the Rajdhani Express didn’t have any mention of any Maoists or the armed wing of the People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities (PCPA). The FIR filed by the Railway authorities in Midnapore’s Rajdhani hostage case is being seen as a move to shield the Maoists. The FIR was lodged with the Jhargram GRP. The railways on Thursday filed an FIR against “unknown persons” for holding up the train, “heckling passengers” and preventing staff from “discharging their duties for a long time”.

It now appears that the CRPF has registered another FIR naming the PCPA as the organization that had taken over the train. Why did the railways not name the PCPA or the Maoists in their FIR? Politics has again come into play. It is being said that Mamta Banerjee and her Trinamool Congress have very good relations with the Maoists and the PCPA and that the whole hijacking drama was stage managed to get media attention. If this is true then this is a very sad commentary on the state of affairs in our country. Here are a people challenging the writ of the state, that are seditious and do not believe in democracy and then there are some political parties that are supporting them! It is the same as what Pakistan did when they supported LeT and Taliban. Today these same people are wrecking havoc in Pakistan and the Pakistan army is busy fighting them. Politics has its place and there are times when one needs to rise above narrow partisan political considerations. If it is true that Trinamool Congress is abetting the Maoists, this will come to haunt the party and the nation sometime in future.

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