OPINION: Why terror is not the answer

OPINION: Why terror is not the answer – neither is Bengal’s Colonialism nor hegemony, thus peaceful and speedy settlement of the Gorkha issue most necessary ?!!

From The Statesman
By D Bandyopadhyay

29 July 2010: I endorse Sankar Sen’s proposition in “Military against Maoists” (23 July) that the induction of the Indian Army in troubled areas of central India would lead to no solution. He has made a perceptive observation that “the Maoist movement is a rural-based insurgency with little support in the urban areas. It is yet to graduate to the level of a mass uprising”.

The armed ultra-Left movement started in Naxalbari in the district of Darjeeling in West Bengal in April-May 1967. So it is a 42-year-old movement. That an armed insurgency could survive and even partially thrive against the organised might of the Indian state shows that it has its own elan to survive against heavy odds.

According to the Union home minister, Naxalism (Maoism) has spread to 23 states, 250 districts and to over 2000 police station areas. Yet it has not reached the level of “a mass uprising”. That it has failed to achieve that stage is a godsend to us.

The present Maoist movement has three major inherent infirmities. In less than half the time (1927-49), Mao succeeded in establishing the People’s Republic of China. Maoists in India are entirely a cadre-based outfit. Any organised cadre of some size develops inner frictions and even contradictions which often prevent its expansion.

Secondly, the Maoist movement in India is heavily weapon-dependent. The number of basic arms (rifles) determines that cadre strength. Thirdly, their activities are all terrain-specific – hills, jungles ravines of the central Indian uplands. They are now operating almost like the “Bagis” of Bundelkhand whose territorial base happens to be the ravines of the Chambal Valley.

Maoists in India moved away from Mao Zedong’s basic line of people’s war. Perhaps that would be their undoing. According to Mao Zedong, “the revolutionary war is a war of the masses; it can be waged only by mobilising the masses and relying on them”.

He further stated: “What is true bastion of iron? It is the masses, the millions upon millions of the people who genuinely and sincerely support revolution. That is the real iron bastion which it is impossible, and absolutely impossible, for any force on earth to smash’’.

Since the Maoist movement in India is not a mass-based movement, Maoists do not have any “bastion of iron” to protect them. But the administration in India failed to take advantage of this grave weakness of ultra-Left movement. Instead of befriending the rural masses, the administration is alienating them by terror tactics of search and combing operations. Their genuine grievances remain unaddressed.

Normalcy has to be restored not through arms and counter-violence but by providing empathic civil administration and giving quick and fair justice (insaf).

Panchayats have been rendered dysfunctional. The Panchayat Extension to Scheduled Area (PESA) Act is not only not being implemented; it is being totally ignored. It is in this lack of any semblance of democratic governance that the Maoists have walked in to fill in the vacuum.

[The writer is a former member of the Indian Administrative Service]

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