Home Interest Groups in the Naxal Organization and an Approach-Mix for the Government

Interest Groups in the Naxal Organization and an Approach-Mix for the Government

Abstract: Both legally and morally it has been a tough battle to decide between who would face punishment and who should be given welfare in the Naxal movement [[1]]; for this is an intricate network of the sheep and the wolves. The article will illustrate an outline of the organization and its various components or the nature of machineries at different levels and prescribe the kind of approaches that would be effective against each of them.

The leaders in the Naxal movement may be motivated by a sense of pride (ideals) or profit as the group of leaders are rarely at threat because they avoid being heard or seen directly. They are policy makers of the organization. Their job is to direct people to carry out tasks such as raising the arms and propaganda. F. A. Hayek  in an article “why socialism?” published back in 1949, had brought out the affinity of intellectuals to socialism[[2]]. Sumantra Bose, a professor from London School of Economics has also stressed in his lecture at Young India Foundation, that a majority of the leaders of the Naxalite organization are not from the poor or oppressed class but rather from the urban areas and are educated, upper class individuals who drive the movement [[3]]. It reminds us, how Charu Mazumdar had mobilized a large number of high school youth through idealism and recently, the story of Sumit, a resident of Kolkata metropolis who had married a tribal girl from Dandakaranya region [[4]] [[5]]. Uddipan Mukherjee has mentioned two causes why the upper class would take interest in this form of revolution putting their comfort and property at stake; one is to do public good, whereas another was to regain social power and prestige in the villages [[6]]. This can be correlated perhaps with abolishing of the zamindari system against the industrial reforms and the want of the feudal lineage to regain their power. Author Paul Johnson from The Wall Street Journal argues that this attraction to intellectuals towards socialism, is because their sense of achievement in going against the natural process to achieve order[[7]]. But, thinking rationally, it may also be the desire for a classless society that had befallen on to them.

The cadre at the grass root level are effectively divided into the combatants and the propagandists who carry out their roles as per orders separately. This segregation is done to avoid overlap of liability in the eyes of law. But, it has to be realized that the people who are ready to go in arms against the powerful state can be mobilized with threat, pride or profit[[8]]. They are among the vulnerable people who are either filled with enough vengeance that ignores (or fails to notice) the penalties of the legal system or they are among those who are promised their share of benefits like food security, dignity and income or are among those who are already criminals (like lower order thieves, robbers etc.) and are hiding from the law and this is next best thing to secure their freedom. Development has limited role to play as strategy as it will aid only the second one among the groups. Then there are those who resort to such violent means, as the failing grievance redress system of the government has limited their ways of expressing their resentment and anger while there are others who are threatened and pulled into the forces for auxiliary roles apart from armed combat; like surveillance, cooking and other chores [[9]].  They are the most genuine victims of the movement. They may be insecure both in terms of physical security and emotional wellbeing related to dignity and equality; thus need to be assured and provided with security of their rights and protected against threats both state and non-state along with rehabilitation that would help them live their lives in a dignified manner. This is largely the profile of the cadres and hence it can be understood that they are broadly rationalists unlike the leaders.

There is suspected to be another group of stakeholders in this entire movement; those who only ally with the Maoist leaders temporarily and fund this for their own profit i.e. the opportunists. They use the cover of the movement to either destroy their enemies in business or politics. They may also use such a set up to procure and control resources that the state would otherwise not allow them to access [[10]]. They have been identified in the past as businessmen or politicians. The Naxal leaders too require their resources or money to run the movement and have logic to adopt this set up. But given that the Maoists leaders have alternative and steady funding sources, the opportunists will find it rather difficult to dictate their own terms on the Maoists. Had they received political alliance in their siege of SEZ in Nandigram and Tata motor plant in Singur [[11]], it is purely because the interests of the politicians collided with that of Maoists organizations – not the other way around. Thus, the Maoist ideology is here to stay and cannot be manipulated; but only fuelled.

The leaders are the link between the opportunists and the cadre and hence are the keystone of the movement. It must also be understood, that knowingly or unknowingly, they often raise issues that are important to consider in democracy. The government may hold a no talk policy [[12]], or a no gun policy; but such stances will not address all the components or agents of the movement; neither will development alone. This is because, when looked more closely, the interests of Naxalites are different at different levels. The cadres at ground want ‘justice’ more than power, the leaders (ideologues) are happy with the history making and the path to power seizure while the opportunists can be considered as temporary alliances and hence will cease to function once the movement is weakened. Thus the organization is comprised of the following interest groups enlisted below and hence the preferred approaches:

  1. Leaders who are intellectuals and non-violent

They need to be psychologically defeated. Because that’s the terrain they are fighting the war on. This requires both perception management supported by facts and positive experiences. Lies spoken on the government’s behalf would soon be realized and only back fire causing more damage to the situation than before. At the same time, the idealists are good resources as opposition and critiques if they are willing to come to mainstream politics and education.

  1. Combatants who are armed and violent
  • Criminals taking refuge under the name of revolution
  • Those who are threatened with loss and injustice

All of them will face the coercive or punishment arm from law but only the second category may receive rehabilitation and security against their vulnerability.

  1. Propagandists who are unarmed and non-violent
  • Welfare activists
  • Victims who resort to Maoists

This is a category of people who shouldn’t be considered as “Naxalites”, until they are lawfully and peacefully mobilizing masses. Even if they have an intention to create violence, they can’t be punished until they do so breaking the law [[13]]. Instead, it must be recognized that they are currently the only means for empowerment of the minority and the government can integrate them into the model of service delivery. An oblivious crack down [[14]] on them will only fuel the movement more.

Fig. Naxal Organogram, linkages and Approaches

The author is Research Intern at CLAWS. Views expressed are personal.

References

[1] Nayak, S., & Subramaniam, M. (2011). The tribal way of life: security over justice. In V.R.Raghavan (Ed.), The Naxal Threat: Causes, State Responses and Consequences (pp. 113-158). Chennai, Chennai: VIJ Books.

[2] Huszar, G. B. (1960). The Intellectuals: A Controversial Portrait. The University of Chicago Law Review, 372-384.

[3] Bose, S. (Composer). (2013). Understanding Indian Maoism -The Three Generations 1967-2013. [Y. I. Fellowship, Conductor]

[4] Ibid.

[5] Mukherjee, U. (2014, May). Catch Them Young: Patterns of Naxal Recruitment. Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies, Issue Brief .

[6] Ibid.

[7] Paul, J. (1990). Intellectuals. New York: Harper Perennial.

[8] Newson, R. A. (2015, February 7) in article  America Needs To Engage With Its Enemies, Not Isolate. Retrieved February 19, 2015, from Defence One mentions from the work of  Thucydides, the Greek historian of the Peloponnesian Wars, who offered three reasons why nations go to war;interest, fear, and pride

[9] Mukherjee, U. (2014, May) loc. cit.

[10] Sardana, M. (2003, October). Addressing Naxalism And Left Wing Extremism Through Good Governance, Development, Security Action, And Readiness To Talk.

[11] The Economic Times. (2010, March 24). Militant Maoism: new threat to industry. Retrieved 2 19, 15, from Swaminomics: http://swaminomics.org/militant-maoism-new-threat-to-industry/

[12] Mukherjee, U. (2015, February). Chasing Peace with the Maoists. Geopolitics, 5(9), 53-55.

[13] Deb, A. (2015, March 6). India’s Need of Perception Management: Countering LWE Propaganda and Agitation. Retrieved April 15, 2015, from Centre for Land Warfare Studies: http://www.claws.in/1347/indias-need-of-perception-management- countering-lwe-propaganda-and-agitation-amartya-deb.html

[14] Bidwai, P. (2015, February 17). Modi government cracks down on green NGOs. Retrieved April 15, 2015, from Open Democracy: https://www.opendemocracy.net/openglobalrights/ praful-bidwai/modi-government-cracks-down-on-green-ngos

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Amartya Deb
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