Red banner of terrorism

9 07 2008

From Daily pioneer

Francois Gautier

Mao Tse-Tung and his Little Red Book may have been all but forgotten in China where the revolution has been overtaken by free market economics. But here in India, Maoists continue to spread their deadly tentacles through terror and intimidation

It is not often nowadays that one can praise the Government. But in the case of Maoism, one has to, for not only everything has been tried, from negotiation to coercion, but the Government is facing a deadly and ruthless enemy which does not hesitate to kill and maim, so sure that it is in the sincerity of its purpose.

In most of the world, Communism is practically dead. One cannot call China a Communist country anymore — indeed, there may not be a more ruthless capitalist nation in the world today. Even Cuba is slowly inching towards free trade.

In India though, not only is Communism alive, but it is flourishing. You will find Communist Governments in West Bengal, Kerala and Tripura. The present Congress Government, till the opportunist Mulayam Singh Yadav stepped in, owed its survival to the Communists.

Communists are often not corrupt, they live a simple life and are committed to their cause, which is not always true of other politicians. Unfortunately there is also a darker side: Indian Communists have totally aligned themselves with Lenin and Mao Tse-Tung, to the point that not only are they anti-spiritual, particularly targeting the Hindus, but often anti-Indian. They will never criticise China, for instance, and even support the Chinese in case of tensions between New Delhi and Beijing.

There is an even more dangerous aspect: It is when Communists take to arms, what we know as Maoism. The far Left movement, which is basically a Maoism-inspired armed struggle, began as a violent peasant uprising against landlords at Naxalbari village in West Bengal, on May 25, 1967 (hence the name Naxalism).

It is true that Naxalism and later Maoism may have risen out of a sense of injustice, seeing how there are still unforgivable disparities in certain parts of India which have suffered for centuries from caste discrimination, exploitation by landlords and the lethargy of the local administrative and political system.

But today Maoists are largely driven by the goal of capturing political power. For, Maoists are very clear about their objectives and they freely quote from Mao Tse-Tung: “It’s (Maoism’s) purpose is to destroy an existing society and its institutions and to replace them with a completely new structure.”

Indeed, if one looks closely at Maoism today, one sees murder, rape, kidnappings, extortion, money laundering and human rights violations. As many as 16 of India’s 35 States and Union Territories are affected by Maoism. It affects 192 of India’s 604 districts. This prompted Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to declare : “It would not be an exaggeration to say that the problem of Maoism is the single-biggest security challenge ever faced by our country.”

In the last 12 months, the Maoists have redoubled their effort to break up Indian society: On March 15, 2007, Maoists massacred 16 officers of the Chhattisgarh Armed Force, 39 Special Police Officers and injured 12 others at Rani Bodli village. On October 27, 2007, Armed Maoists massacred 17 people, including a former Jharkhand Chief Minister’s son at Chilkhari village of the State’s Giridih district. On December 16, 2007, in a daring jailbreak, 110 Maoists escaped from Dantewada Jail in Chhattisgarh. On February 8 this year in Orissa 300 rebels, including 100 women, gunned down six policemen at a police reserve which houses an armoury as well as others at a training school and two at Nayagarh police station in the heart of the district town. The Maoists also took away over 1,200 state-of-the art rifles and one lakh live bullets. It would seem that the Maoists are within striking distance of Orissa’s capital, Bhubaneswar, which is barely 100 km away.

Sometimes, the media says Maoist violence is on the wane. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The Maoists have a ‘budget’ of Rs. 60 crore for carrying out its armed struggle during 2007-09. This money has been raised abroad by NGO’s abroad. Meanwhile, emboldened by the success of Nepal’s Maoists in virtually seizing power, Maoists in India have recently released a stunning declaration outlining their programme.

The Government has tried everything to contain the Maoists: Negotiation, counter-insurgency measures, and arming tribals. But with little result. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has now initiated a dialogue with Maoists to convince them that the gun is not the only solution.

His teachings and initiatives have transformed many villages in Maoist-hit areas of Andhra Pradesh and Bihar. During his visits to Bihar, more than 100,000 youth from warring factions have taken a solemn vow to spread the message of non-violence.

Recently he initiated a much-needed Peace and Reconciliation conference in Oslo, Norway, to focus on internal armed conflicts in South Asia, particularly Maoism. Norway’s Special Envoy Jon Hanssen-Bauer, Members of European Parliament Erika Mann, Nirj Deva and Aud Kvalbein, the Deputy Mayor of Oslo, were among the prominent speakers.

The Foundation Against Continuing Terrorism FACT, while aware of the terrible inequalities that still exist in India and which provide a fertile ground for Maoism to spread, is mounting an exhibition on Maoism as a threat to national unity, at Habitat Centre, Palm Court Gallery, from July 8 to 13.

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