Friday, May 28, 2010

The Indian State and the Maoists

To set aside for the moment opposition to Maoism itself – an opposition significant enough in principle alone – and to look for now only at practice, specifically, the recent Maoist militia actions, such as the killing “of nearly 40 civilians and trainee special police officers…[a]fter exploding a civilian bus carrying 50-60 persons, they opened fire on those who survived the blast(Nirmalangshu Mukherji),” it is without difficulty to identify the current Maoist strategy as having not only nothing to do with a revolutionary program, but, ominously, with a counterrevolutionary campaign of desperate terrorism.

Revolutionary campaigns consist of, by principle and definition, raising the consciousness of the people, rallying and organizing the masses, educating and preparing them for the responsibilities that form the very foundation for the initiation of a people’s governance. It need not be stressed in detail that bombing civilian buses, killing innocent civilians and waging a campaign of terrorism against the public is intrinsically diametrically opposed to any such effort. One cannot hope to educate, organize and raise the consciousness of those one is inexplicably and indiscriminately killing.

The Indian situation is among the horrors of the world, the tribal situation even more so and it is therefore a shame and a crime that the Maoists have exploited the tribals’ impoverished destitution for their own military centered strategy over and against any serious material improvement in the tribal situation. Mukherji observes that “[i]n an act of palpable cowardice, the defeated maoist leadership from Andhra and Bihar abandoned the struggling people there, and entered the safe havens of Dandakaranya forests. Taking advantage of the historical neglect and exploitation of the tribals by the state - the ‘root cause’ - the maoist leadership ensured the support of hapless tribals with token welfare measures while directing most of the attention secretly to construct guerrilla bases. In the process, they lured a large number of tribal children with assurances of food and clothing. These children have now grown into formidable militia and guerrilla forces. After committing atrocious crimes in the name of ‘revolutionary violence’, these youth brigades are now facing the wrath of the mighty Indian state. It is reasonable to infer that millions of tribals continue to side with the maoists largely because their children are with them.”

The Indian state’s “Operation Green Hunt,” a ruthless and violent campaign initiated by the state consisting of forming paramilitary forces and sending them into the forests in order to murder Maoists, tribals and anyone who will not submit and even many who will - a campaign described as genocidal by some and which will, in effect, include the killing of many children (considering that many of the Maoists’ “guerrilla forces” are young and impressionable tribal children who were offered no alternative) – is nothing short of a crime against humanity and must be identified as such, Maoist terrorism not being a rational justification for such heinous murder (especially when considering that Indian state sanctioned murder predates recent Maoist terrorist actions).

The Vietnam inspired program of Operation Green Hunt has historical roots and parallels. Arundhati Roy writes that “the Salwa Judum was a ground-clearing operation, meant to move people out of their villages into roadside camps, where they could be policed and controlled. In military terms, it’s called Strategic Hamleting. It was devised by General Sir Harold Briggs in 1950 when the British were at war against the communists in Malaya. The Briggs Plan became very popular with the Indian army, which has used it in Nagaland, Mizoram and in Telangana. The BJP chief minister of Chhattisgarh, Raman Singh, announced that as far as his government was concerned, villagers who did not move into the camps would be considered Maoists. So, in Bastar, for an ordinary villager, just staying at home became the equivalent of indulging in dangerous terrorist activity.” This was the program of the U.S. in Vietnam: roll through the country burning down village by village and imprisoning the inhabitants in concentration camps where they could be controlled and restrained from supporting the indigenous political movement that was opposed by U.S. foreign policy when they were not massacred outright or when they had not already been decimated either by aerial fire bombing or chemical warfare. This is the policy taken by the Indian state and now heightened to new levels of violence and murder.

In light of the situation: violence, death and destruction from both sides, a ceasefire need immediately be called, peaceful negotiations taken up and grievances aired and addressed, predominately and centrally those of the tribals who have suffered unspeakable oppression, exploitation and domination for far too long. Here the burden lies upon the back of the treasonous Indian state which at every opportunity has refused such offers from the Maoists (such as in late Februrary when Kishenji challenged the Indian government to declare a 72 day cease-fire, among other immediately important and reasonable demands, such as the ending of “encounter killings” which target not only any Maoists but even “suspected supporters”), stamped upon every chance of ceasefire and negotiation and has spurned on to exponentially greater degree the circular internecine violence that disproportionately injures and maims Indian tribals and civilians.

Terrorism is for the most part and almost axiomatically acts of the desperate, the last resort of those who feel suffocated and left with no alternative and the Maoists, constituted by the most oppressed and neglected in India, the tribals, are just such a demographic. The resolution of any conflict that involves them must be predicated upon improving their horrific plight, acknowledging and including them in the social and political arena in India and rectifying the history of wonton disregard, exploitation and destruction of their lives. They must be offered real, substantive alternatives in order that they are no longer left in disparate villages in the forest hiding from the next paramilitary assault targeting any and everyone in the area, while simultaneously being subject to some of the most naked forms of oppression by the mining and other corporations in India and living every moment of their lives, men, women and children, with targets on their backs.

When the Maoists bomb a civilian bus they are not engaged in revolution, but are instead perpetrating terrorism, however, when the Indian state wages war within its own borders against some of the most impoverished and oppressed human beings on the planet one cannot but expect them to resist and to retaliate by any means necessary. The Maoists have proposed cease-fires, unless the Indian state is determined to exterminate the tribals, to cleanse the Indian forests of their long established inhabitants only in order to strip the forests barren by mining corporations and other business interests, and to show to the world how little life is worth in India, what “free-market capitalism” really consists of at its most naked and unregulated, they shall and must accept such offers. Only then can the ugly history of India be placed within the proper trajectory and only then can light begin to rejuvenate the unspeakably violent darkness of India.