The Struggle Continues

A s the electroral surge of the Bharatiya Janata Party(BJP) continues unchecked, with the party sweeping the recently held Delhi municipal polls for the third consecutive time, the saffron camp looks over-zealous and jubilant. They think they have already saffronised India and it is now a mere formality to legalise it through 2019 parliamentary elections. So BJP president Amit Shah had the audacity to criticise the historic Naxalbari movement while addressing a gathering last month at Naxalbari that witnessed ‘Spring Thunder’ in late 1960s. Mr Shah took the trouble to go all the way to a remote village in north Bengal to kickstart his booth-level meeting with a definite purpose – to dislodge the present ruling dispensation in Bengal. He came down heavily on the naxalite movement and that too on the eve of 50th anniversary of ‘Naxalbari Uprising’, but he conveniently forgot to mention why a little spark later snowballed into a huge liberation struggle of the toilers across the country with national and international significance. Despite so many set-backs over the years the movement has survived and the Shahs are no less scared by the spectre of naxalism.

No doubt there are about two dozen naxalite tendencies throughout the country while many of them are working at cross purposes, defeating the very core message that ‘Naxalbari’ stood for 50 years ago. But at least on one point they don’t differ — they all believe in popular maoist dictum – to rebel is justified. They are rebelling against the system, against the ruling dispensations, including the leftist dispensation, everywhere. Not that all of them are rebelling in violent way. Nor are they blood-thirsty murderers as projected in the media. Only the CPI (Maoist), being an underground outfit, indulges in violence in response to state violence. In truth Amit Shah was blindly criticising the ‘naxalbari movement’, ignoring its historical inevitability, just about 24 hours after a brutal ambush in which 25 CRPF personnel were killed at the Burkapal area under police station Chintagnta in district Sukma in Chattisgarh. And the Prime Minister, the Home Minister and the Chief Minister lost no time to send on Twitter messages announcing compensation to the families of the dead while condemning the maoist action as ‘cowardly’. This twitter message is a latest fashion to politicise social media. The hard fact is that this maoist violence is not an aggressive affair, they are being forced to retaliate as the security forces are systematically terrorising and killing poor tribal villagers who refuse to part with their tiny parcels of land to make room for big mining giants. With back on the wall tribals have no option but to support the maoist party as it is the only party that effectively espouses their cause – their very struggle for livelihood and survival.

Not that the tribals want a perennially strife-torn situation to live in. Having failed to get justice from the authorities, they have finally opted for violence because the persons in power don’t understand any language other than violence. Everywhere insurgency, whether it is religion-based or ethnicity-based has a similar storyline. Amit Shah blamed it on development — or lack of it — as the root cause of social unrest and violence but he failed to elaborate why the three BJP-ruled states that frequently hit the headlines for maoist violence, lag in development.

Meanwhile, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh was quick enough to accuse the human rights defenders of not condemning maoist attack on CRPF personnel, justifying perhaps arrest and torturing of rights workers as it happened in case of Sai Baba and numerous other activists. But much to the dismay of Rajnath Singh Chattisgarh Lok Swatatrya Sangathan (People’s Union for Civil Liberties, Chattisgarh) severely condemmed the killing of 25 CRPF personnel. How many rebels died in the deadly ambush still remains unclear.  Whether they admit it or not, a civil war situation still persists in Bastar but the government refuses to declare it an ‘internal armed conflict’, to avoid monitoring by the United Nations.

Human Rights Bodies are highlighting violation of rights by security forces and militants as well. Only people like Rajnath Singh with juandiced eye cannot see it. If they frequently come forward in defence of rebels it is because they are the victims of undeterred terror by the state.

If there is an institution that merges corporate interests and government power and does so in a way that exempts itself from legal scrutiny, that institution is a fascist one. And Amit Shah’s party BJP has perfected that art in RSS. ‘Naxalbari’ ensured that the bells of liberty could be heard everywhere at a time when Amit Shah’s party was not even in existence. Buoyed by electoral success here and there the saffronites are now doubly encouraged to hold on to their vision of politicised religion that would rule India. But that is not going to happen because the struggle continues. So the Shahs are reacting fanatically to anything remotely connected to ‘Naxalbari’.

Vol. 49, No.44, May 7 - 13, 2017