What really motivates insurgents to bloody their hands?

Saturday, May 29, 2010

On almost everyday in the last two months, I woke up with news stories depicting the brutality of insurgents. A 16 year old girl who fled the Maoist camp was allegedly raped by the Maoists [May 2]. Eight Indian paramilitary troopers were killed when Naxalite rebels blew up a police vehicle in the central state of Chhattisgarh [May 8]. Six villagers were murdered by slitting their throats by the maoists [May 16]. Two similar blasts in Dantewada killed over hundred security personnel [April 6 and May 17]. Gyaneshwari Express derailment before an oncoming goods train hit the loose carriages that killed at least 100 passengers [May 28]. Last two months were undoubtedly the bloodiest times in the history of insurgency and have given enough nightmares to Home minister and his team.

One thing that has always puzzled me is, the kind of motivation and support naxalites get for violence. We often say, "I will kill you!" in our day to day conversations, but most of us really don't have that 'driving force' to kill some one! Where does that come from? What really motivates the comrades in the red corridor to bloody their hands? The fundamental reasons like poverty, lack of education, lack of exposure to outside world, etc, have been used by our political leaders so often that, they no more appeal to our reasoning. But then, what really motivates the insurgents?

Other side of the story
“You cannot end the world’s injustices without stirring a revolution. No revolution happens without bloodying your hands. We are fighting a people’s war – a protracted people’s war”, says a maoist comrade. Another comrade says, their struggle is "to end exploitation, oppression and block aggressive moves of big corporates and the state. More importantly, it is a long term struggle projecting a different type of living."

What does he mean by "different type of living"? He says, "This type of living is nothing but sustainable development; people’s friendly education; growing emancipation of women; a halt to domination and plunder of foreign and Indian exploiters; a new culture that rebuilds Adivasi traditions anew instead of mocking them."

But what stops them to lead their life in that way? "Government thinks that Maoists/Naxalites are the real obstacles in the plans of government to open up the whole country to the ravages of globalization. This is why, the Central and State governments devote funds and forces to suppress them evenwhile they cut down on social services with the plea of resource shortage." "It is certainly true that a number of monopolies like Tata, Mittal and Vedanta are just waiting to plunder the resources of these areas. A good part of it is slated for export as raw material to imperialist countries. The only thing preventing this right now is the people’s war and politicised Adivasi masses led by the CPI (Maoist)."

Core issues
Thus, the question of "control over resource" is involved in the tussle between government and the Maoists/Naxalites. But, "this is neither the sole issue, nor even the main one", comrades emphasize. Privatisation, displacement, environmental destruction, atrocities of the security forces and many other issues surface every now and then to keep their struggle alive.

History of exploitation
Exploitation caused by "interference" in their lives or the misuse of official powers by security forces is not new. The construction of railways during British Raj worsened their misery. The railway contractors used brute force to employ them cheaply on construction work and even kidnapped and raped Santal women. The railways even took away the grains produced by Santals and created food shortage. Silent protest of Santals until 1855 did not help at all. They started attacking Zamindars and money lenders, disrupted rail traffic. The Santal declared the end of company rule and proclaimed Santal Raj.

In the post independence era, atrocities of security forces in the red corridor area is one of the important reason for their fight against security personnel. It is disappointing to note that, staggering 48,939 cases  were filed against policemen in 2008-2009 for their (alleged) atrocities according to the report by the Crime Records Bureau [More here]. Government's mega projects in Naxal/Maoist affected areas have been the reasons for conflict and violence. Many of the acts passed by the parliament on land reforms and tribal rights have had a negative impact on the lives of Adivasis in insurgency affected areas. Their struggles and demands are mainly focused on Privatisation, displacement, environmental destruction, atrocities of the security forces, etc.

Demands of Maoists/Naxalites
The main premise of the Naxals was the upliftment of the poor peasants and they wanted the land tiller to be the land owners. But with time, the list of their demands kept growing. Now, following are the main demands [HT]:
  • A democratic atmosphere should be created in the State. The government should respect people's right to fight for their democratic demands.
  • Implement reforms in the agricultural sector like Land Ceiling Act.
  • Implement policies of industrialisation and other schemes based on local resources in place of the liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation policies being followed now.
  • Recognise the tribal people's rights on forest.
  • Form a separate Telangana State.
  • Cessation of atrocities on Dalits.
  • Recover money from the affluent who evade taxes.

Naxals never had a peaceful approach to attain their demands. They often resorted to violence. It's an irony that they soon started following what they had set out to crush--atrocities.

The way forward
There may be many factors motivating the Maoists/Naxals to create violence in our society. But nothing can justify the killing of innocent lives and security personnel. The so called "Gandhi with Gun"kind of reasoning is undoubtedly flawed and sounds like Gandhigir with Gundagiri! Something which can never co-exists. Such reasonings does not inspire the confidence of those who are trying to bring some peace in the lives of innocent people. There are certain genuine reasons behind Maoists/Naxalites struggle which definitely demand the attention from "mainstream government". Sooner the mainstream India accepts those genuine reasons, better it is for peaceful co-existence within our boundaries.

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This work by Manjunath Singe is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License. The views and opinions expressed in this work are strictly those of the author and do not represent his employer's views in anyway.