What is the agenda of the Maoist armed people’s war in India? What is their class agenda? Are they really anti-imperialist? Have they ever been visible in any struggle against liberalization, privatization and globalization?
Primary school teacher Sridam Das, was on his way back home from school riding his cycle. All of a sudden, a bike arrived and multiple bullets were fired at him killing him in no time. It was the latest ‘revolutionary’ attack till date on the soil of West Bengal.
Not long ago, three poor villagers, working under the rural employment generation project, were dragged from their site of work, killed mercilessly by bullets fired relentlessly until their bodies oozed molten lead. Kshetrapal Majhi, a native of Arsha, was assassinated in the dark of night.
Karam Chand Singh was teaching in the classroom. Students were all from ages 6-10. They suddenly arrived and started beating him, punching him and slapping him in front of the children. Then they fired a bullet on his back, the children watched. He was then dragged outside the school, his face bruised with repeated attacks with stones; the children watched everything. The strangers left the place leaving the deformed corpse behind; the children witnessed all the gore and violence of the crime committed in front of them. Patches of blood painted the walls of the classroom, the floor of the corridor and the ground underneath the date-palm tree. Again, the children watched everything. Some fainted in fear, some started vomiting, and the rest suffered nightmares.
So far, this has been the most striking trend of the ‘great Indian Revolution’. The prime target of the great peasant war against imperialism, feudalism and the comprador bourgeoisie in West Bengal was found to be a school-teacher, Karam Chand Singh. The People’s Armed Struggle against state-power, military and the police has made such progress that the fighters had to flee before they face the villagers heading that way on hearing sounds of gunfire, moreover the fighters did not forget to verbally abuse the poor adivasi people calling them, ‘Enemies of the Great Revolution’ and ‘Dogs licking the feet of Imperialists’ pointing pistols towards them with their courage and might!
It was 37 years back from today. Bimal Dasgupta, head master of a school in Durgapur, was burnt alive, after being tied to a chair and smeared with petrol. He and people like Karam Chand Singh and Sridam Das were all accused of one crime, their support to and involvement with the Communist Party of India (Marxist). That trend of killing teachers is still on, sometimes from the right, sometimes from the left, sometimes with slogans of emancipating the country or sometimes in their pursuit to free Asia. Maoist intentions are clear in West Bengal through their actions. Records tell us who the Maoists think are their prime enemy in our state. In the past 5 years (2003 - 2007), 23 policemen and 37 workers of the CPI(M) have been murdered (excluding the death toll in the Nandigram violence). And the number reaches the peak of 45 deaths of CPI(M) workers if we take into account the number of deaths in 2008. Not even a single worker from parties like Congress, Trinamool or B.J.P. has been inflicted with a minor injury or been touched by the Maoists. Perhaps the Maoists believe that these parties are allies in the ‘Indian Democratic Revolution’.
Maoists have a proclaimed manifesto. In this pretty long manifesto bearing excellent political sensibility, India has been described as an indirect colony of imperialism and the present day Indian Revolution as almost equivalent to the struggle for freedom. That is, imperialism is the principal enemy aided by feudalism and a comprador bourgeoisie. The only weapon of Maoists against these is ‘People’s Armed Revolution’. Homicidal attacks occur very frequently and the victims are primary school teachers, poor adivasi farmers and young DYFI workers. Have we heard of any Maoist operations against imperialists? To make any kind of sense, let us assume that the Maoists are not getting the imperialist sahibs in front of them. But have we seen any Maoist action against the C.E.O. of some US multi-national corporation or some person in authority in such organizations or even a clerk working there or even the gate-keepers? No! Not a single instance except the mild explosion that took place at the Coca Cola Bottling plant in Guntur, Andhra Pradesh in the year 2000 with zero casualties. Is there no imperialist found in India during the current era of globalization? Let us now consider the strict enemy of the revolution – ‘the feudal forces’. Even in the 1970’s the Naxalites on few occasions launched attacks against the jotedars (major landowner, generic term for rural exploiters especially through tenancy) and the moneylenders. On the contrary, no single jotedar or moneylender is found on the list of dead - fallen prey to Maoist attacks in West Bengal. The scenario is more or less similar in other Maoist-infested states as well. One complaint of Maoists, however cannot be refuted - that the CPI(M) has turned the jotedars into almost an extinct species through land reform in West Bengal. But rural moneylenders are still present in adivasi areas.
Now let us turn to the last remaining enemies – the ‘comprador bourgeoisie’. After going through the Maoist manifesto it is hard to comprehend, who these people are. They are the flag-bearers of imperialism; they carry on ‘proxy’ exploitation on behalf of the imperialists and share an umbilical relationship with feudalism. Everything, so far, is within the scope of our comprehension. But in Article 13 of the Manifesto they have been described as ‘comprador bureaucratic capitalist class’ (or big bourgeoisie or national monopolist bourgeoisie). Too many adjectives have led to the complete disappearance of meaning. They are the big bourgeoisie, they are monopolists, they are also local agents of independent, aimless imperialism, whereas, in other places of the manifesto (e.g. Article 18), they have been described as sub-imperialists. They are supposedly trying to expand their territory over entire South Asia. One ‘burning example’ of such activity according to Maoists is the intervention of the Indian Army in Bangladesh’s liberation struggle in 1971. That means, soldiers of the Pakistani Army were interrupted in their great ‘Nationalistic & Democratic’ activities by the military campaign of the Indian Army, aligned to imperialists.
But what is the agenda of the Maoist armed people’s war against this ‘comprador bureaucratic capitalist class’ (or big bourgeoisie or national monopolist bourgeoisie) who operate according to the game plans of imperialists in expanding their territory in South Asia? Nothing at all! To say that they never stood in solidarity with the working class struggle in India against the national monopolists would be an understatement; they never even bothered to put up a single poster on this issue. There is a solitary reference to liberalization, privatization and globalization in their manifesto (Article 16). Have they ever been visible in any struggle against liberalization, privatization and globalization? They are absent in the countrywide struggle that has grown around these issues. They have never even delivered a single speech in support of a countrywide strike. Where is their fight against the bourgeoisie?
But they have set off a couple of fire crackers outside the walls of the Tata car manufacturing factory at Singur. In 2005, Maoists attacked the bauxite mine of Birla’s Hindustan Aluminium Company (HINDALCO) located in Lohardaga district in Jharkhand. They set fire to 6 dumpers there. Around 10 people were injured. On 9th May of the same year another mine of HINDALCO in Jharkhand was attacked. State-controlled corporation ONGC ‘s coal based methane mine in Jharia (Jharkhand) was also attacked by the Maoists. They threatened assault on 2 Eastern Coal Field controlled mines. To get the big picture, we have to focus on the geography of Maoist activities in our country. After the gradual extinction of Maoist activities in Andhra Pradesh, the three states, which are the main operating zones of the Maoists, are Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Orissa. All of these three states have large and deep forests areas and mines. According to an unofficial report Maoists control 19 percent of the total forest area of India. Forests not only provide safe shelters to the Maoists, but they also protect the environment. Every year produces massive amount of natural resources. Major part of the supply of ‘kendu’ leaves in the country come from these zones, so does timber and thousands of varieties of other forest-grown assets. It is really amusing to note that, be it either forest-grown resource or mineral resource, none have seen any reduction in their production. Both state-run and private establishments, even foreign companies like POSCO are entering into business of extracting the resources. They have not even faced a single scratch in their operations. Contractors control the supply of forest resources and produce. They are working in sound health. Why are the fiery anti-bourgeois revolutionaries allowing them to do that? What have they got in exchange? HINDALCO has not had to close down any of its mines.
Only one answer is obvious- ‘they have got money in exchange’,’ they have got levies in exchange’. Previous records show that Maoists have almost institutionalized this system of taking levies. Monthly payment of levy has been settled determining who will pay how much. Forest and mineral resource extractors have to pay levies ranging from 2 to 20% of their monthly income. Tilak Ganju, one of the top ranked Maoist leaders, arrested in 2005, confessed during a police probe that from Jharkhand alone they collected Rs. 3 crore in this manner. On refusal of payment, there is ‘people’s armed war’ and on receiving the levy ‘everything goes’. It does not really matter if extortion and oppression continues in the same way as before.
How much money does come this way? Maoist leader Misir Besra, alias Sunirmal after being caught by Jharkhand police a few days ago, has disclosed that the Maoist budget for the period 2007-09 for ‘armed struggle’ had been set at Rs 60 crore. Rs. 42 crore from this amount was budgeted for buying arms and ammunitions, Rs. 2 crore for information collection and the rest of the money would be distributed among the 11,000 Maoist warriors. Anti-state struggles would be conducted with the money taken as tributes from capitalists and contractors. What is the difference between these revolutionaries and a terrorist organization?
Yes, this is the way they conduct their struggle against the mediaeval modes of exploitation in these backward areas. Traders face no inconvenience at work. Earlier they had to bribe government officials to continue these illegal practices.Now they do the same thing by paying the Maoists. Corrupt government officials still have a fear of superior authority; even that fear factor is absent in case of the Maoists. Maoists were already accused of carrying on illegal trade in Catechu (Jharkhand), ‘Kendu’ leaves (Madhya Pradesh and Chhattishgarh), Sandal wood (Karnataka), now they are also accused of illegally growing opium.
The reason behind their ire against the CPI(M) is that these things cannot be done in West Bengal. The CPI(M) is resisting. Maoists are totally against development. They believe people would turn their face away from them if socially backward areas undergo a process of continuous development led by the government. This is certainly a matter of great annoyance to them. Slowly but surely, the remote areas are also developing. The Maoists are victims of a certain kind of theoretical perversion. They believe their support base will grow if the darkness of mediaeval exploitation and backwardness is preserved by shunning any kind of development. They have never bothered to educate themselves with Marxist approaches to development and poverty. They are even ignorant of Mao Zedong’s writings. Had they at least read Edgar Snow’s ‘Red Star over China’, they would have perceived the amount of empathy and affection with which the communists in China pursued the objective of educating and providing health-care to the people who had lagged behind. Instead, these Maoists blow up schools, burn down health centers, and murder teachers.
Under the cover of some revolutionary theories, these Maoists are nothing but a group of hypocritical terrorists. They are silent about the mass murder being carried out in Iraq by the Americans. They have no agenda against exploitation unleashed by multinational corporations. Although their party program has grandiloquent positions against Hindu communalism (a noticeable thing is that no word has been spoken about Muslim fundamentalism), they play no role at all in opposing the Sangh Parivar. On the contrary, all the Maoist-infested states are under the governance of the BJP and its allies. They have not been part of a single programme against liberalization and privatization. Maoists claim themselves to be the true revolutionary organization of peasants. But they are completely mute on issues like crop prices, water for irrigation, fertilizer subsidies. They have no clue about the people’s struggle against price rise. How can they be ‘friends of the poor’?
We have acquired knowledge on their political purity in West Bengal. In Singur and Nandigram, they are going to bring about a ‘New Democratic Revolution’ hand in hand with Trinamool, BJP, Congress, Anandamargis, and the Jamaat Ulema-i-Hind. One of their allies Trinamool Congress shows honesty at least in one case – they have a single unfazed goal – “Get rid of the CPI(M)”. The same aim drives the Maoists but they wear a ‘revolutionary’ mask. Election or elected association – from Parliament to Panchayat, each elected body is under siege by Maoists in their written manifesto (Article 27). But in every election, they never forget to intimidate people to cast their votes for their favoured mahajot (grand alliance) candidates against the CPI(M). The unwritten law in Maoist infested areas of Jharkhand or Chhattishgarh is that the person paying the highest amount to the Maoists will win the election. In West Bengal, their direct support is based on compromise with the candidates of the grand alliance against the CPI(M).
Some people used to feel sorry for the Naxalites of the 1970s considering them to be directionless and degenerated. Confusion and degeneration have intensified, while ‘revolutionary’ ideas have totally disappeared in thirty years. The present day Maoists are pure terrorists. Opportunism is their chosen way. And on every account they are enemies of the poor people.
Translated by Sridip. Edited by Chirashree.