Why do Naxals hate NGOs? A case study of Bihar

31 07 2008

Monday, 02.04.2008, 01:20am (GMT-7)
Source: India post

Naxalism is a grave problem in Bihar. According to a March 2007 document of the Bihar Police, 30 of its 38 districts have been affected by Maoist activities. Maoist violence is endemic across the state’s territory. The fight against the state by the Naxalites is explicable.

But, why do they hate the NGOs? The ground reality provides many reasons for this hatred. First, the power of the Naxal outfits is the people, the masses. They fight for the downtrodden, the poorest of the poor, the lowest castes.

For instance, the Naxals fight against the state to bring social justice to the Dalits. At the same time, the NGOs also work for the betterment of the downtrodden and poorer sections of society. Thus begins the rivalry for custodianship between the two.

There are, however, fundamental differences in attitudes and approaches between them. The NGOs work at the grassroots and associate themselves with the masses. They seek to empower the Dalits through non-violent methods.

They inform the people about existing government schemes for the poor and often influence government officials to being proactive and helping the downtrodden. Through the Right to Information, many Dalits claim their rights to shape their future. These initiatives by the NGOs delink the Naxal outfits from the masses.

There are many such examples. The Musahar community is one of the most marginalized in Bihar that faces exploitation and discrimination. There are many NGOs working for their betterment in Bihar, but a number of them have received threatening calls to shut down their projects or face the consequences. A school run by an NGO was shut down in Gaya district, for example.

Children, who studied in the school, probably know nothing about the Naxalite movement, except that their school has been closed now because of the Naxals’ frequent demands for money. Second, the extortion money collected from government officials is immense.

There are many developmental projects for the poorer sections of society and the Naxalites claim their share in almost all these schemes. These projects are convenient and easy prey for the Naxals to establish a channel for sharing this booty. Their collection programs target forest contractors, businesspersons, civil contractors, villagers and government officials, including the police, in some areas.

The developmental activities run by the NGOs do not share the booty with the Naxals. The Naxals cannot directly demand a share from the NGOs, nor can they directly threaten them, as this would expose their pretensions to provide social justice.

The NGOs, therefore, become a consistent irritant for the Naxals. Third, there are many cases where school-going children have been picked up by Naxal outfits from the Dalit community. They advocate that education will not bring any change in their future lives, but that the bullet can restore their lost social status. Therefore, these children turn out to become hard-core Naxalites.

Fourth, since the Naxal outfits are unable to fight the NGOs directly, they have started their own registered organizations. There is speculation that a number of NGOs in Bihar are funding the training of Maoist guerrillas.

The writer is PGT, Teacher Koilwar, Bhojpur, Bihar

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