There is a screaming headline in our Hindi newspaper today that says something like “The states must deal with Naxalism sternly.”
I have come across similar headlines in many newspaper headlines, television debates and on Twitter. The sad state of affairs is, the only people who talk about going to the root cause of the Naxalite problem either belong to fringe ideologies like communism, or they have some vested interest in promoting such extremist doctrines intellectually and materially.
Even when common people (who are not journalists, writers or activists) try to express themselves or raise their voice, they are peremptorily quietened by both supporting and opposing factions saying, “Oh, you armchair intellectual, what do you know of the ground reality?” Blurting out such statements has become so prevalent that even those who are actually armchair intellectuals accuse people of being the same. Anyway, this is not the issue.
There are some realities in India that are too obvious to not to know, whether you physically visit those locations or not. There is a state of utter lawlessness in many parts of India. Utter lawlessness means your village can be burned down just because someone wants that land. Your women can be abducted, raped and brutally killed just because the law protects the perpetrators and not you. Even when you approach the law for protection, you are chased away and further victimized. Your land, where your generations have been living for centuries, is randomly occupied by aliens and if you try to protest, a reign of terror is unleashed upon you. The state and the police openly connive with the mafia and the corporate bodies. Just to set an example out of you, you or your loved ones can be hanged from trees, cut to pieces and literally fed to dogs and vultures. There remains no brutality that people of these regions have not borne. For all that matters to them, you can stuff concepts like democracy and civilized living up your ass.
Now, to know this, do you really have to visit these troubled lands? If these problems don’t exist, if there is no exploitation, no state repression in order to favor land and mining mafias, no social and administrative infrastructure to perpetuate the divisive ills of centuries, then why the heck is India in such a state? Why aren’t we the torch bearers of a prosperous, just world? We are not. We suck big time on the social justice index. We all know how our political structure works. We all know how deeply our society is divided. A majority of our population is not even allowed to sit on a cot. There are no schools, no medical facilities, no roads and no electricity. Why don’t we rage about these galling inequalities that give rise to such violent movements? Why only throw up when there is a reprisal? It’s like saying, “I keep getting cancer, I must fight it,” while constantly, knowingly, exposing yourself to radiation. Or, never washing your hands and then always complaining about stomach infections.
I’m not saying that people who support the Naxalite movement have very noble intentions, considering what opportunistic sorts seem to support such causes. But it doesn’t mean we develop a blinkered view simply because shady intellectuals shed tears for the Naxalites on international forums. If there is a problem it needs to be solved. The root causes need to be dealt with either simultaneously, or first. You can’t expect Naxalites to give up arms while the situation remains the same. Why should they? I wouldn’t. If my family were in danger and there were no legal protection I would never give up my gun.