Daya Varma


Indian Maoists are doing what they are good at. Lately they blew up railway lines in a more callous manner than was done during the Quit India Movement of 1942. The railway station in Birmadih, Bengal was also burnt. The driver and the guard of the train were taken hostages. I do not know whether or not they hoisted the red flag and declared the area in West Bengal ruled by the “revisionist” Left Front as a liberated zone. In any case, emulating some of the Jihadi groups, the Communist Party of India (Maoist) claimed responsibility for this act.


India is not going to collapse because of this sordid episode nor will the Communist Party of India (Marxist), which dominates the politics of West Bengal. This much even the Indian Maoists know – why else will they keep on repeating such sensational acts more often and at more places? To put these acts in perspective, however, it should be recalled that the Khalistanis caused much greater havoc; in their heyday, electoral turnout was reduced to almost 7 percent of the total. More people paid ransom to the Khalistanis than do to the Maoists; also the amounts were larger. Despite this, Punjab is still in India and ruled by parties elected by a sizable percentage as elsewhere in India. The Kashmir Liberation Front once had more than 10,000 armed units; eventually they realized the fruitlessness of armed struggle. Even though the Kashmir problem is not solved, every one with the exception of foreign mercenaries realizes that the issue in Kashmir needs a thoughtful political solution. The bandits of ULFA (United Liberation Front of Assom) can kill poor migrant Biharis but can never liberate Assam.


So the future of Indian Maoists is no brighter than it was; nor can they deliver to India anything better notwithstanding their rhetoric. This is the minimum lesson they ought to learn from Naxalbari. Indeed during the turbulent days of Naxalbari, almost every leader with the exception of Charu Mazumdar realized the folly of guns. The dynamic Ashim Chatterjee changed his tune within minutes of his arrest and so did Mahadev Mukherjee. Charu Mazumdar did not live long enough after his arrest so no one knows what his assessment would have been but many ex-Naxalites are now in parliamentary politics as they should be.            


It is understandable why the Indian Maoists are able to recruit the tribal people, whose political consciousness is rudimentary and who can easily be lured into a feeling of power by holding guns. What is difficult to understand is why left intellectuals on the periphery of active politics get so excited whenever a bomb explodes in a train or a bus station or even in a police camp. Is it because they believe that some one is doing the job they wish to do but cannot? Or do they think that the Indian Maoists are going to “liberate” India in which they will be able to live happily? Or do they think the Maoists’ actions are good for India though not necessarily appropriate for them?    

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