By Sajjad Shaukat
Instead of addressing the root causes of the Maoist uprising, Indian government has started a blame game against China, alleging for supplying arms to these insurgents. Recently, Home Secretary of the Indian Union, G.K. Pillai accused that China was “a big supplier of small arms to the Maoists…the Chinese are big smugglers.”
In fact, Maoist uprising which has taken the form of armed struggle is indigenous. It has become an unending insurgency due to the injustices and state terrorism perpetrated by the rich Hindus and Indian security forces.
Maoist movement initially started by its leader, Mupala Luxman Rao in 1969 in the form of peasant uprising in West Bengal, protesting against big Hindu landlords who left no stone unturned in molesting the poor people through their mal-treatment such as forced labour, minimum wages, maximum work, unlawful torture and even killings-the evils one could note prior to the French Revolution of 1789 when feudal lords had practiced similar injustices on the farmers.
However, instead of redressing the grievances of the peasants and workers, Indian security forces in connivance with the rich-dominated society used the forces of state terrorism in crushing the Maoist movement. The Maoists had no choice, but to launch an armed struggle for their genuine rights.
The Naxalite-Maoists, as they call themselves, are, the liberators, representing landless farmers and the downtrodden masses that have been entangled into vicious circle of poverty, misery and deprivation. The Indian indiscriminate social order treats them resentfully, setting aside human dignity and self-respect. It is owing to the continued inequalities that Maoists have appealed to the sentiments of the helpless poor, who found their future dark under the subsequent regimes led by so-called democratic forces of India. According to a report, “Out of total 1.17 billion populations, over 39% of dispossessed Indians, living below poverty line are hopeful that Maoists would bring a change in their wretched lives.”
Ideologically, the Naxalites are against the current Indian state. They believe that Indians have yet need freedom from hunger and deprivation and from the exploitation of the poor by the rich classes of landlords, industrialists and traders who control the means of production. Due to these reasons, Maoists target all representatives of the state like politicians, the police and other officials. At local level, they target village functionaries and landlords.
Having its voice unheard, Maoist movement which has been raging in West Bengal, Bihar, Orissa, Jharkand, Chattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, and Andhra Pradesh, has expanded to Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Now, it is a popular movement which has massive support of people for its ideology.
In the recent months, Maoist insurgency has intensified enveloping new areas. An Indian government assessment admits that the Naxalite influence has extended over a third of the country.
Notably, Maoist movement has become a violent struggle because of the use of undue force by the Indian security forces. In this regard, on October 31, The New York Times wrote, “India’s Maoist rebels are now present in 20 states and have evolved into a potent insurgency. In the last four years, the Maoists have killed more than 900 Indian security officers…violence erupts almost daily.” The Times explained, “If the Maoists were once dismissed as a ragtag band of outdated ideologies, Indian leaders are now preparing to deploy nearly 70,000 paramilitary officers for a prolonged counterinsurgency campaign to hunt down the guerrillas in some of the country’s most rugged terrain…the Maoists represent the dispossessed of Indian society, particularly the indigenous tribal groups, who suffer some of the country’s highest rates of poverty, illiteracy and infant mortality…India’s rapid economic growth has made it an emerging global power but also deepened stark inequalities in society. Maoists accuse the government of trying to push tribal groups off their land to gain access to raw materials and have sabotaged roads, bridges and even an energy pipeline.”
BBC had reported on September 22, 2009, the rebels surrounded an office belonging to the Communist Party of India (Marxist) in Midnapore …rebel leader Kishenji told the BBC that the Communist supporters had hoarded a large number of weapons at the party office in order to carry out attacks against villagers who supported the Maoists…the party supporters were harassing local women, so thousands of villagers led by our fighters encircled the party office.” On October 12, BBC indicated that in response to the atrocities of the Indian police, Maoist rebels had blown up culverts and cut electricity to railways in various regions during two-day strike.
Naxalite insurgency known as Red Corridor has become so popular that India is actively considering shifting 23 battalions of Para-military forces from occupied Kashmir to the Maoist affected areas.
Surprisingly, in the recent past, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh admitted in a meeting of police chiefs saying: “his country is losing the battle against Maoist rebels…violence is increasing” and “Maoists have growing appeal among a large section of Indian society including tribal communities, the rural poor and the intelligentsia.”
While on the one hand, Indian rulers realise the real causes of Maoist uprising, but still accuse China of backing the Maoist guerrilla warfare. They have started a series of allegation against Beijing in this regard. Some Indian high officials misperceive that China supplies arms and ammunition to Maoists in neighbouring Nepal where Chinese command strong influence. According to some recent Indian accusation, New Delhi believes that Nepali Maoists and Indian Maoists have formed a nexus duly supported by Beijing. With the covert support of Indian secret agency, RAW, Indians also propagate that there are secret training camps in China, which teach tactics of guerrilla warfare to the Maoists, and then they are being dispatched to India.
As regards Nepal, in 2006, Indian backed monarchy was overthrown by the majority of Maoists whose genuine struggle had been named as insurgency by the Indians. The leader of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), Prachanda was elected prime minister in August 2008. The result of elections had exposed the false blames of India against Chinese interference in Nepal.
Nevertheless, Prachanda had to resign when the President, Ram Baran Yadav, overruled his firing of the chief of the army, Gen. Rookmangud Katawal. Maoist leaders have charged that the general defied a United Nations-backed peace accord by refusing to integrate about 20,000 former guerrilla fighters, most of them are jobless and are living in United Nations camps under the Nepalese military. In fact, Indian RAW has been trying to subdue the majority opinion of the Maoists in Nepal through various clandestine techniques.
There is no doubt that Maoists of India are fighting for the basic rights of lower and middle classes, which have been usurped by the upper classes supported by the Indian government. Just as we have noted in case of some other states of India, especially in the occupied Kashmir where struggle of liberation continues in one or the other way-when people take to arms, there is going to be all kinds of violence by the freedom fighters and the revolutionaries. So Indian so-called democratic system is responsible for the drastic situation it has created.
Moreover, Maoist guerrilla commanders have been providing basic military training to local youths in West Bengal. They use weapons which they have snatched from the installations of Indian security forces. Since their struggle, they have kidnapped a number of personnel of the armed forces. Some poor persons, serving in the Indian forces have also provided them with arms and ammunition.
Nonetheless, India must stop its baseless blame game against a peace-loving country like China in connection with Maoist Uprising.
Sajjad Shaukat writes regularly for Opinion Maker; he writers on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs. Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Affairs