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Mainstream, VOL L, No 20, May 5, 2012

Maoist Actions and State Operations

Editorial

Sunday 13 May 2012, by SC

Several moves by the state, judiciary and ruling party to muzzle the press have come into focus on the national plane of late. In the global arena, especially in the West, May Day this year has been observed by the working people venting their anger at the growing joblessness and rising austerity measures, and this anger threatens to topple the rulers in Paris and Athens; but in Moscow more than a lakh of workers celebrated Labour Day with a Soviet-style march demonstrating their support for the newly elected President Vladimir Putin ahead of his inauguration.
However, all these have been overshadowed by the recent Maoist activities in the country’s tribal hinterland that continue to attract wide attention keeping pace with the state’s operations to contain the insurrection in the affected areas.

As we go to press, there has been no news yet of Sukma District Collector Alex Paul Menon’s release from Maoist captivity in Chhattisgarh. But there is every possibility of his release soon in view of the fact that late on April 30 night all the four mediators from the side of the Maoists and State Government had reportedly signed an agreement on setting up a “high-powered committee to review all cases” of those whose “investigations and prosecution are pending” implying thereby that these did not include the cases of those who have been convicted and are serving sentences in jail.

What is significant is that the Maoists have dropped several of their original demands like release of eight of their comrades as well as withdrawal of the security forces deployed in the area as part of the ‘Operation Green Hunt’ launched by the Chhattisgarh Government. It is also known that Menon’s abduction did not go down well with the common people of Sukma who took out rallies and candlelight marches on a daily basis demanding his release. Moreover, a section of the Maoist leadership is learnt to have disapproved of the abduction as it was felt that the step would dent the Maoists’ image in the region.

In this context it is noteworthy that a prominent leader of the mainstream Left, newly-elected CPI General Secretary Suravaram Sudhakar Reddy, has sharply criticised the Maoists’ politics of abduction.

In a persuasive piece in the party’s central organ, Reddy openly assails state terror as well referring to “hundreds of recent bogus encounters” including those that killed Azad and Kishanji, “torture of the innocent poor”, “arrests of thousands of innocents” implicated in false cases and “violations of human rights and civil liberties on the part of the government” which “speak volumes on the credibility of the state”. But in the same breath he maintains that “Maoists, whose credentials are no better, in spite of their consistent fight for the oppressed sections of people, try to tarnish themselves by indulging in killing the innocent people—civilians and security people on duty—, kidnapping and abduction of civilians officers”.
He does not mince words in castigating the authorities without equivocation, and asserts that “brutal repression by police never solved any people’s agitation and now Maoism cannot be curbed by such repression”.

At the other end, he acccuses the Maoists of “betraying their own declared policies” and calls upon them to “change their method of struggle and come into mass movements”. Incidentally, it is only the CPI among the Left parties which is organising mass movements on people’s issues in Chhattisgarh.

We are well aware of the Maoists’ attitude to mass struggles and mass line. But it is time they realise that their current policy of excessive reliance on the cult of violence and arms would lead them into the blind alley.

At the same time what is undeniable is that the Maoists’ present growth in the so-called Red Corridor (covering the entire tribal belt in the States of Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Jharkhand, Maharashtra and West Bengal) is directly attributable to the state’s neoliberal policies which have deprived the tribals of their habitat and land for the sake of “industria-lisation” and “development”, which essentially mean the interests of the corporate industrial lobby, both indigenous and transnational; and the present dispensation at the Centre is deter-mined to uphold and promote those interests. Herein lies the real reason behind the Naxalites’ considerably limited influence in the past when the state had not opted for the neoliberal path of advance.

Alex Menon’s abduction in Chhattisgarh as also the earlier abductions of the Italian nationals and BJD MLA Jhina Hikaka in Orissa have brought out all these phenomena in bold relief.

May 2 S.C

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