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Mainstream, VOL LVIII No 34, New Delhi, August 8, 2020

Open letter to a Maoist friend: Is it time to hang up your boots? | Shubhranshu Choudhary

Friday 7 August 2020

by Shubhranshu Choudhary

Dear Vasu

Heard your voice after a long time when you sent an oral press note opposing our Peace initiative. Same voice, same passion...

It was good to know that you are now an official spokesperson for the Maoist party.
I recall our first meeting, in a coffee house in Raipur Chhattisgarh, now more than 30 years ago when you told me that you do politics for people. Center of gravity of your politics is the good of the common people. People, only the good of people, you had told me with sparks in your eyes and I was impressed. Your party was then called People’s war.

But now your same politics is harming the same poor people more my friend, hope you agree.

“For a better future” you are regularly killing people after calling them “informers”. For example in one of your stronghold districts In Chhattisgarh called Bijapur according to official data your party has killed 294 people as "informers" in the last 14 years. The total number of people killed by your party in the same period is 602. I am told that these numbers are only the tip of the iceberg as many people from interior areas do not report to police about atrocities by the party at all. Don’t you feel bad destroying so many families for nothing?

Your party has also put out a press note saying police have killed 24 "innocent people" in the same period in that region.

In the last 40 years you have created thousands of commanders in Bastar but you don’t have a single local adivasi in your politburo today. Some of your leaders justified it by saying that there is no reservation policy here. We tried but we could not make second rung political leaders. Politics is complex and these Adivasis do not understand it, they told me. They also told me that you came to Dandakaranya to hide and not to do politics. There was a clear instruction that Adivasis do not have political consciousness so you should only concentrate in making the forest a safe haven for the party. But you started doing politics here when places where revolution was to happen like in Andhra Pradesh, Bihar and Bengal dried up for the party.

Leaders like you, who came from states like Andhra Pradesh and Telangana must be aging now. You have also created a good system for procuring arms and monetary resources but once you are gone will the same commanders not turn against each other as we see in places like Jharkhand and Afghanistan? Is this the legacy you want to leave behind?

You left your homes more than 40 years ago to build a better world. I get tired after spending a few weeks with you guys. We salute your commitment. But your politics has no future, my friend.

Your senior leaders had told me during those trips that you are fighting for a New Democratic Revolution. The conditions in India are not ripe for even socialism yet and the fight for communism may come after, they told me.

All of us want a better democracy. Outside the jungles we have been almost a failure so far but maybe we should join hands. It is much bigger a battle than running away after killing a few policemen.

It is impossible to have a revolution with guns today. Mao also hasn’t said that a few hundred leaders with a few thousand supporters can bring any meaningful change and especially in a big country like India.

Like experiments in Bodo areas in North East, maybe it is time to talk for a Dandakaranya Autonomous Council. You have made people of Bastar a fighter. Please help them a bit more to make a better Bastar for their future generations before you leave

Yours friendly

Shubhranshu Choudhary

(Writer of Let’s call him Vasu: With Maoists in Chhattisgarh and co-ordinator The new Peace process)

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