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Mainstream, Vol XLVIII, No 51, December 11, 2010

CPI (Maoist) and Operation Green Hunt

Sunday 12 December 2010


About one hundred and fifty years ago Karl Marx, in a historic study, observed that British imperial capitalism smashed the economic foundation of the then pre-colonial India based on self-contained and self-sustained village units with a static stability for centuries. This develop-ment, of course, was facilitated by the Indian bourgeoisie after independence. But it appears that vast patches of areas, by no means insignifi-cant and inhabited by poor tribal people with their primitive economy, were left untouched excepting those areas required for coal and other mining and basic metallurgical industries where the tribal people were uprooted and displaced.

After independence also different population groups, mainly the tribals and poor, were displaced from their homestead and homelands and deprived of their normal vocations for various developmental activities including river valley projects. It seems that both the Central and State governments did not pay sufficient attention to their rehabilitation. The above situation and also negligence of their welfare for decades after independence caused resentment among the tribal and other poor population groups of a vast area of India.

The CPI (Maoist) jumped into the fray and is utilising the tribals for its own purpose whatever it may be. But from the violent nature of the movement and terrorist like activity it seems that the CPI (Maoist) leadership is challenging the government’s authority and it has other hidden agenda.

In view of the gravity of the situation Mainstream (April 17, 2010) has rightly focused its attention to the problem. The issue has a few articles; a substantial part of the editorial is devoted to the problem.

CPI (Maoist): Its Aims and Objectives

IT is a pity that none of the articles including the editorial throws any light on the aims and objectives of the CPI (Maoist) leadership as distinct from those required for the improve-ment of the tribals’ abject quality of life and, where necessary, rehabilitation. Whatever one may assume or conclude, it is necessary to have such a thesis from the leadership of the CPI (Maoist). One also likes to have some outline of their strategy and tactics. The article by Sumanta Banerjee (SB), who was once incarcerated in prison due to his involvement in the Naxalite movement, is candid enough to state it is “fast acquiring the dimensions of a civil war”.

Again to quote SB, “But then, these soldiers (that is, 36 CRPF soldiers killed in Chhattisgarh on Arpil 6, 2010—D.P.S.) by being cannon fodders of the Indian state, however tragic it might be, suffered the fate that—I am sorry to say—they deserved.”

Again “… if we accept it as a part of civil war, such killings are inevitable …”
Though SB has made the matter clear, yet he, at present, is an outsider. Let us hear from the horse’s mouth.

Operation Green Hunt: Denounced

ALMOST all the other authors have expressed, more or less, regret for the death of 76 CRPF soldiers. But this is not the only violent activity perpetrated by the Maoists. There are innumerable instances of murder, almost daily, including members of the Maoists’ own front organisations on the charge of being government agents, kidnapping, demolition of railway lines and operation of landmines etc. In West Bengal murder of CPM activists and sympathisers is a daily routine affair. All these have been justified on the ground of intense deprivation and destitution of tribal people compelling them to join the Maoists. None of the authors of Mainstream has denounced these violent activities or made any appeal to the leadership of the CPI (Maoist) to stop. But Operation Green Hunt and the loss of life therefrom have been condemned.

Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer and others condemned the killing of CRPF personnel in no uncertain terms but at the same time pointed out that after 10 months of the sad happening, that is, killing of more than a hundred villagers in the same area by the security forces, the case has been reopened. It appears that the killing of CRPF soldiers is only in retaliation.

The Independent People’s Tribunal has recom-mended stoppage of Operation Green Hunt but there is no call for stopping the violent Maoist activity. It has further expressed that victimising dissidents (of Operation Green Hunt) should be stopped. Credibility of the tribunal would have increased if the leadership of the CPI (Maoist) was advised similarly.

Digvijay Singh’s (DS) conclusion appears to be completely confused under the present field conditions. Can the use of rifles, guns, landmines etc. and killing people by the Maoist movement be called an activity of a civilised society and vibrant democracy? DS may kindly note that the present Maoist violence has been going on for years (is it from 2003?) and Operation Green Hunt is comparatively of recent origin.

Intense deprivation and destitution of the tribal people compel them to join the Maoists. Mainstream and Surendra Mohan correctly and implicitly makes a distinction between require-ments of poor people and the leadership of the CPI (Maoist). Certainly same treatment will not cure both.

Are not local MPs, MLAs and punchayat members people’s representatives? We know that local MPs and Panchayats have certain amount of fund for local development. In addition to the government and national parties, we have parties of tribal people with activists, fund and influence on the local population. To have a clear idea of what are the basic needs and require-ments of the poor tribal people living on primitive economy is not very easy, rather highly complex. Secondly, when a son of a tribal, through his own effort, climbs a few steps of the social ladder, he becomes declassed—a common feature in the contemporary human society. The community at large gets some fringe benefits but it does not create an upsurge or movement. The improve-ment of quality of life of its people is essential but highly complex.

Duplicity of Maoists

WE have not heard any developmental work in Maoist held areas of India. According to DS, “Maoists, at the most, are misguided ideologues who have lost faith in the system”. But in the same paragraph he writes something to contradict himself: “But the sheen of that political ideology appears to be wearing off. We see traders, forest contractors, industrialists and mining companies carrying on their business without any problem —in fact quite merrily”. According to a news-paper report, sale of opium cultivated illegally in many Maoist controlled areas is another source of their income.

Police Action a Necessity

WHEN someone aims a gun at you, you have every right to counteract to save your life. At present Operation Green Hunt is a necessity. But subsequently, a programme for the development of tribal people must follow. We have overlooked the problems for decades but cannot neglect any longer. When the situation stabilises we must start welfare work.

A programme for the upliftment of the highly deprived poor tribal population groups is to be formulated and this is not an easy task. It would include development work as we normally understand (providing good roads, safe drinking water, hospital and other health services and educational facilities etc.)

Additionally, equally important is their economic and social upliftment and for this the study of the corresponding milieu of the tribal people of different regions. A blueprint for the same can be made only with knowledge of reality at the grass-root level.

Though belated, it is worthwhile to make a beginning. But will the leadership of CPI (Maoist) allow the government or quasi-government agencies from entering the area for carrying out the programme?

Every author and Mainstream have suggested the stoppage of Operation Green Hunt and implied negotiation with the leadership of the CPI (Maoist) without any condition. Technically this might be justifiable as an attempt to win over the tribal population who at present are actively, or passively or out of fear, are supporting the Maoists’ violent activities. But this has also dangerous implications; it may be construed as a sign of military defeat and a weak government.

D.P. Sen, E13/3 Karunamoyee , Salt Lake City, Kolkata 700091

Editor’s Note: It is incorrect to say that “none of the authors (in Mainstream) has denounced” the Maoists’ violent activities. Most of them have openly dissociated from the Maoists’ cult of violence. As for the appeal to the Maoists, this journal has never shied away from urging both sides (the government and Maoists) to, at least temporarily, abjure violence so as to enable the process of negotiations between them to start.

As regards the CPM activists killed by Maoists in Jungle Mahal, most them were either members of the CPM’s infamous harmad vahini or associated with it. That, of course, does not justify their massacre by the Maoists. But can one turn a blind eye to the kind of terror unleashed and atrocities perpetrated on the local people by the harmads so as to keep those people under subjugation? The reality is far more complex than what Sen presents here based on the one-sided propaganda of the Union Government in general and the CPM-led West Bengal State Government in particular.

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