Maoist ‘Revolution’

Maoists are in news again. This time their activities in Kerala are getting media attention though their main thrust of revolution lies in Central India—Bastar region of Chattisgarh.

But a big blow to Left extremists in South India, has been the arrest of Kerala based Maoist leader Roopesh, along with his wife Shyna and three aides, from Karumathampatty in Coimbatore (Tamil Nadu), on 04 May 2015. But it is unlikely to cause a serious dissipation of the movement in Kerala. Many young men are still being attracted to the movement in the Adivasi areas of North Kerala. The central command of the CPI (Maoist) has already started emergency efforts to maintain co-ordination of activities. The movement has started getting positive response from Adivasis in forest areas of Wayanad and Kannur. Adivasis have started realising how huge the socio-economic gap is between the forest dewellers and the outside world. They do not trust the traditional politicians. Many youths are joining the Maoist movement, and a large number work in front organizations of environment and land. Since November 2014, the Maoists have carried out a minimum of ten attacks in Kerala. The corporate office of Nitta Gelatin, a gelatin manufacturer was attacked in Kochi on November 10, 2014. The project office of the National Highways Authority in Kalamassery, near Kochi, was attacked on January 29, 2015. Tourist resorts have been attacked in Vellamunda and Thirunelli.

Abujhmaad in Chattisgarh is a ‘‘liberated Maoist zone’’. So claim the Maoists. Comprising around 40% of the cadre, women are an important factor in the insurgency. Men and women share all responsibilities equally, and women get special food rights. Deep in the forest patches of Abujhmaad in Narayanpur district, squads with three uncoil long wires, lay through bushes, before fixing Claymore mines and a detonator on opposite ends. Activists wash dishes, spread tarpaulin sheets on the ground. Generally, rebel women fetch water for the camps. Rebels live a Spartan life with food and tobacco strictly rationed. Intoxicants, including local tribal brews are banned. Policemen frequently spray bullets and burst grenades in Dandakaranya. Guerillas travel around 10 to 15 km a day, and rarely spend consecutive nights at a single place. At nights, at least one cadre is posted on an hourly sentry duty. Rice, lentils and occasional vegetables, provided by villagers, form the diet of the rebels spread out around hills, rivers and forests. 08 March 2015, International Women’s Day was marked by the CPI (Maoist) speaking to tribal women about their rights. Women commanders of rebel zones, oversee around twenty five Jantana Sarkars or village councils. CPI (Maoist) has stopped exploitation of women in Bastar, and ended ‘Pitrasatta’ (Patriarchy). While marriage within the Maoist camp is allowed, a man or a woman can propose to his or her partner, only two years after joining the party. Marital life must conform to the ‘‘requirement of the revolution’’, which implies a forced vasectomy for male cadres.

The Maoists entered Dandakaranya from Andhra Pradesh in the early 1980s. For a vast section of tribal society, ‘‘Revolution’’ is a battle to protect their water, forest and land. The government has not even been able to conduct a census in the area. It does not know the position of many interior villages in Bastar. Voter lists are full of errors. Schools and forest rest houses, which were earlier polling booths, have stopped existing long ago. The rebels periodically updated their database of villages. Their notebooks list hens, goats, and quantity of food grains with every family in each village, within their territory. Maoists Jan Militia and Gram Rakshak Dals form base level forces in villages. Every year about 150 Maoists, civilians and police informers are killed in Bastar. In February 2015, over 10,000 Maoists supported ‘‘panchs’’ were elected unopposed.

The hard fact is that Maoist insurgency is now being solely identified with tribal cause in some backward regions of India. Nothing is heard about the original plan of four class alliance-led revolution. A class alliance cannot fall from the sky. The new ideological orientation emerged from the naxalite uprising is completely missing today. They are isolated from a large section of urban population. But they are equally isolated in rural India too because peasants—poor and middle peasants to be precise—do not see them as liberators. The authorities have no problem in tackling insurgency in isolated pockets as they have been doing it for decades in North East and Jammu and Kashmir. Unless the Maoist slogan of liberation becomes a slogan of vast majority of people, across the country, nothing tangible will be achieved in the foreseeable future, albeit the 50th anniversary of ‘Spring Thunder’ over Darjeeling is not far away?

Vol. 47, No. 51, June 28 - July 4, 2015