My blog on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's concern about growing naxalism in the country evoked tremendous response. I am thankful to all those who took time off to write or text me their concern. This only goes on to show how outraged the nation feels at the dishonesty of the government's response.
Among the responses I received is this detailed analysis from film director Ajay Kanchan. It is a powerful and moving insight, which I would like to share with you all.
"Naxalism is not a distant forest fire, it is now reaching our doorstep."
One of the greatest philosophers Aristotle once said, "revolution is not possible in a country where there is a huge middle class". The rise of Maoists and Naxalites is not the withering away of middle class in India but swelling up of that section of society whose existence we barely recognize. This is the section of society whose generations after generations were made to pay with their lives and livelihoods in the name of so called "larger national interest" and what we are now witnessing is a stream of small but powerful pockets of revolutions in many parts of the country. And why not?
I shudder to feel if one fine morning someone comes and pastes a small poster in my colony that informs us that in the next 30 days our houses will be acquired in "larger national interest" as after demolishing them the Government will make a road here.
Just think of plight of people when their properties, especially the sources of livelihood are snatched on which they lived for generations and after generations, and that too without any compensation. During my Oxfam days many times I was driven to tears and my heart filled with anguished when I came across people who suffered multiple displacements. I still remember of visiting one village where many women even lost their eyesight because of chronic malnutrition and severe anaemia. That was not an exception as villages after villages will remind you as if you are not in India but in Ethiopia.
I have seen papers of compensation where people were paid 25 paise for mango trees, Rs 100 for their house and that too remained on paper as police simply heard them in a bus and sent off to far of places so that they can't even come back to the places where they used to live. Many of these people had never seen a road or a vehicle in their lifetime.
Actually sir, the rise of Maoists and Naxals is nothing but the outcome of the structural violence that the Indian State, or I should say the misrule that successive governments have unleashed against its own people in the last 62 years, which is largely responsible for the parallel power structures in almost 300 districts of the country.
A war with Pakistan or China may never take place in view of all the countries are possessing nuclear weapons but a civil war, where the armed forces will be pitted against our own people is now seems inevitable. The political diaspora in the country always needs a powerful villain to keep itself in power, and therefore Arundhati Roy is spot on when she said "What Muslims are for the BJP, the Maoists and Naxalites are for the Congress".
Let's face it sir that our country has always been described as "India" that belongs to the elite and upper middle class and "Bharat" where the poor and downtrodden live, but what everyone forget so conveniently that there are more than 40 million internally displaced people, a number which is perhaps much more than the combined population of refugees all over the world. These internally displaced people may still be the citizens of this country but their lands have been snatched, their means of livelihood have been destroyed, their women have been raped and butchered, their children have no future, so what will they do other than declaring a war against the Indian state. This is how it all started.
Two wrongs can never make a right, but how long one party will continue to behave as if committing wrong is its prerogative, and this is precisely the way the Indian state has behaved against its poor in the last six decades. We need to contemplate on the reasons why the successive Governments at Centre and in States have failed to stem the rot and why over 800 million people still earn less than Rs 20/- a day. Unless we do an honest introspection and address the issues as they are, we will continue to hurtle into chaos and civil war.
Sir, Salwa Judum, a defence committee of villagers against Naxals was the Congress idea and started during Ajit Jogi's tenure as the CM of Chattisgarh. It was a clever Congress ploy aimed at divide and rule but it boomeranged. Most of the displacement of people without any compensation has taken place during Congress regimes.
Just before leaving Oxfam I made a comprehensive project "India Displaced" and most of points that we listed were given to Ministry or Rural Development and Tribal Welfare. Question is that who is preventing the government from implementing it? Why there is no sense of urgency?
Sir, my fear is that with the emergence of a one party (or one coalition) rule in the country the corrupt elements in the political system will compromise the interests of the country. The emergence of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) and surrendering of Indian agriculture to US MNCs like Monsanto is a case in point.
Unfortunately, Congress is not the only one as the eagerness of all the political parties to rob the people of their lives and livelihoods simply because of mineral wealth in areas where they live will only grow in the days to come. Previously we the rich urban dwellers wouldn't even get to know their misdeeds but this time they have a powerful villain called "Maoists and Naxals" to deal with, whose means are no less pervert than that of the forces they are combating.
One outcome is certain and becoming more and more apparent that India is cracking up from within. The continued hypocrisy and denial will only lead to bloody battles and ultimately result into disintegration of the country. It's inimical to "acquire and consume" culture that most of us live in. Fire is no longer somewhere in distant forest it's now reaching right on our doorstep.