Linkages between development and spread of extremism
In the Indian scenario, extremism activities(e.g. Naxalism, Radicalisation) are increasing rapidly. The scale of the extremists’ operations is massive and consequently, these activities have a perilous impact on the nation’s social, economic, and political development.
Improvement in standard of living is something that everyone craves and deserves it too. It involves, apart from decent food, clothing, and shelter, quality education and health, and also dignified living. It is the absence of these things that incited masses against the colonial government. Independence of India brought with it huge popular expectations for upliftment from poverty, from a new democratic government. Our leaders were wisely dedicated to democratic principles for redistribution of resources.
Unfortunately, democratic processes are too slow to observe any tangible results soon. Under this, it is to be ensured that, in order to deliver justice to downtrodden people, injustice is not done even with privileged ones. This requires every action to be taken transparently and every affected person be given a reasonable opportunity of being heard and also the right to recourse to courts.
Land reforms were a major plank through which the Congress brought rural masses under its fold. But after independence, this subject went under the state’s domain. Politics of every state deferred and it was the driving force for the extent and direction of land reforms. States which failed to deliver much at this front were to bear the brunt of left-wing movement in the coming times.
Further, from the very beginning focus was on the development of big industries in backward areas. This development included the operation of mines, the building of big dams, steel plants, fertilizer plants, etc away from urban centers, yet these continued to feed the needs of urban India exclusively. So, tribals and farmers were losers in this arrangement as they were frequently displaced. According to an estimate, since independence, about 3–4 crore tribals have been displaced due to various hydro projects.
Apart from this, the Indian state repeatedly failed to deliver its services such as maintaining law and order, social infrastructure, relief during epidemics, or disasters in remote areas. These made people indifferent to the democratic principles and some of them even got averse to the state when they were indoctrinated. These places were the breeding ground of Naxalism where they established their bases.
The government’s efforts for the preservation of forests and wildlife have also led to some sort of resentment in tribals. Some of their areas came under wildlife sanctuaries and national parks. This made our government appear to be working for animals at the cost of tribals.
Evolution of Indian Extremism
Extremist Left-wing movement was present at the time of Independence mainly in Hyderabad and Patiala princely state. Communists affiliated with CPI here came to rescue oppressed peasants from Jagirdars and Biswedars. In Hyderabad, they fought against Islamic militia, the Razakars. When the Indian army liberated Hyderabad in 1948, communists who were deeply influenced by the Russian Revolution, decided to continue their struggle against the capitalist Indian government. Similarly in Punjab, a small band of the militia was formed to protect farmers from oppressive Biswedars and soon it got eradicated.
Naxalbari, a village near Siliguri North West Bengal, became infamous in 1967 as it revived left-wing extremism in India. Charu Mazumdar was an active leader of the area and was mobilizing peasants against the state for an armed conflict.
In 1972, Charu was caught and he died under custody. After this, the movement went underground. Heavy state response kept violent incidents under control in the 1970s but it got pushed in the 1980s. This time it was from Andhra Pradesh. Actually, in 1967 itself movement also started in Srikakulam, Andhra Pradesh. Here revolutionaries tried to mobilize tribals into armed militias called ‘Dalams’, by inciting them against landlords, money lenders, and the government.
Naxalism has spread to 17 states in India, including Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal to name the few main ones, affecting nearly 185 out of 602 districts.
Stated Purpose of Naxalite Movement
The Naxalites state their main political purpose as establishing an alternative state structure in India by creating a “red corridor” in Naxalite-affected states, stretching from the border of Nepal to central India to Karnataka in the south through violent struggle. This requires local support, Naxalite rebel leaders take up causes like protecting people’s rights of Jal, Jungle, and Jamin (water, forest, and land) and providing justice through their committee’s courts. Local support is crucial for the Naxalites for cadre recruitment, intelligence, logistics, and territorial control.
In initial phases, they wage guerilla warfare and inflict surprise attacks. This is to make the enemy weaker and project their claim over an area. This is also used by them to make common people under their influence believe that the state is not all-mighty and it is possible to defeat the state. It is said that Indian forces have so far just faced 5% of Maoist cadres, that too of the second rung. They possibly have more sophisticated, better armed, and trained elite force, which they are yet to brandish.
Worse is that they are amicable to any anti-India force which serves their purpose. Whether they are terrorist organizations, organized crime mafias, Human/animal traffickers, smugglers, or any foreign state enemy of India, all have some or other nexus with Maoists. They can make use of counterfeit notes, provide passage to illicit materials, give refuge to anti-national elements, and carry out contract killings to get what they want in return. This way they can arrange for money or modern weapons.
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