Red Alert – Part 1:The Beginning

Last week, in one the biggest Naxal attacks in Dantewada, 75 CRPF Jawans were killed. They were ambushed while returning back from a combing operation. Similarly on 29 June 2008, about 50 Jawans of anti-naxal squad were feared drowned in Balimela reservoir in Orissa’s southern district of Malkangiri on Sunday as the boat ferrying them came under gunfire by Naxalites from atop a nearby hill. These are just two examples of violence and bloodshed in the name of social justice and equality, since the movement started in May 1967.

Naxal attacks alone claim more than 50% of all lives lost in India to terror and violence. But the question remains, what are they fighting for? Let us move back in time a few decades to look at the events that led to their birth.

The movement began in the village of Naxalbari, West Bengal, where a group of CPI(M) activists was led by Charu Majumdar, Kanu Sanyal and Jangal Santhal into a violent revolt against the landlords in 1967. Charu Majumdar was inspired by Mao and he inspired the peasants and tribal to take up arms against the government and the upper class. All India Coordination Committee of Communist Revolutionaries(AICCCR) was formed in ’67. It claimed that “the Indian political situation was ripe for armed revolution and denounced participation in the Electoral Politics”. It broke away from CPI(M) and organised many armed uprisings in several parts of the country. In ’69 it gave birth to CPI(ML).  Almost all Naxal groups trace their origin to CPI(ML).

The movement gathered a number of supporters, especially amongst the radical sections of the students union in Calcutta. Schools in Calcutta were shut down and the Naxals took over Jadavpur University. Presidency College became their headquarters.  Outside Bengal, Naxalites soon found ardent supporters among some of the educated elite, and Delhi’s prestigious St. Stephens College, became a hotbed of Naxalite activities.

The government started taking counter measures. It was a civil war in Bengal but the West Bengal police managed to curb the menace for the time being. The Naxals suffered losses and later “alleged human rights violations by the West Bengal police”. The argument given by the police was that “the state was effectively fighting a civil war and that democratic pleasantries had no place in a war, especially when the opponent did not fight within the norms of democracy and civility”.

The violence was stopped and the movement was torn by internal disputes. Many different factions were born which kept fighting over the years, until recently since the past few years, the movement has again accelerated and is now growing from strength to strength. Especially since the incident at Lalgarh, West Bengal in May 2009, when the Naxals overthrew the local police station and randomly attacked local CPI(M) leaders. The state government had to bring in Paramilitary forces to reclaim the area from the rebels.

Under the leadership of Kishenji now, the Naxals have a new base since the early 70s when the movement was crushed. They have obtained superior weaponry, are highly trained in guerrilla warfare and are the biggest threat India is facing. Kishenji has claimed that they will have an armed movement in Calcutta by 2011.

From this history lesson we know that the Naxals were initially peasants who took up arms against the government. Social injustice was their reason for the bloodshed. Was their point valid? That is for the reader to decide.

To be continued…………in next post; the analysis of the latest movement and the role of the government and the forces in trying to curb it. Why the politicians don’t want to commit and why using army is not the solution.

Personal Views: Yes, the people there were poor and there was discrimination and you can’t to step over people and not expect them to rise against you. The peasants and the tribal demanded equal status and were not wrong in their demand but their method was wrong. The war now is beyond my understanding. Now they are against everything. They want to rule and have become hungry for power. They brainwash kids into joining the force and fight a war which has no meaning.  I know one thing that reading about the movement, brings to mind a novel, I had read as a child, titled “Animal Farm” by George Orwell. We all know what the pigs did in the end and where the other animals remained.

5 Responses to “Red Alert – Part 1:The Beginning”
  1. Smitzy says:

    Brilliant article Patty. This explained a lot about the history of the Naxal Movement. Personally, I feel its the fault of the government. If the state govt would have paid interest to the upliftment of this backward section of the society and ensured equal rights and benefits to them, the Naxal movement would never have started.

    Initially when this problem was in the infancy stages, it was termed as a law and order problem and left for the state govt to address it. Only now, that it has become an issue of epic proportions concerning national interests, has the central govt intervened. I hope this situation is contained before it becomes too serious. My heart goes out to the CRPF personel who were sitting ducks in this Operation Green Hunt. They just walked to their deaths. May their souls rest in Peace.

  2. Mayur says:

    Good information. I did not know all that much.

  3. Azad says:

    A brilliant article! Before trying to eradicate a problem, one has to know its roots and you my friend, just pointed at the root!
    Its a very complex issue which has to be dealt deftly and swiftly before our nation suffers any more.


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