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Dr PV Ramana addressed a zoom meeting organized by Pragna Bharati on the evening of 24th April 2021. The talk was titled, “India’s Maoist Movement: Trends Status and Way Forward”. Ramana is a policy analyst, was a Research Fellow at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (Delhi). Presently he is a member of the Task Force formed by the Bureau of Police Research and Development, Ministry of Home Affairs, New Delhi to study, “Indoctrination, Recruitment, Surrender and Conviction of Maoists”. The report was submitted before the end of April 2021. His talk dealt with the encounters/battles between Security Forces (CRPF, State’s special units like Greyhounds….). No amount of information in such talks will help India to end the decade’s long “Maoist movement without a knowledge of and exposition on the ideology and aims of the Maoist PWG”.
The self-description of the Maoists is “People War Group (PWG)”; they are a guerrilla army; their armed men and women have been operating in the mostly tribally inhabited forest areas of Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Maharashtra, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Jharkhand since the later 1970s. In the encounters/battles between them and Security Forces a few thousand police men and hundreds of informers (civilians) were killed by the PWG. So were some hundreds of Maoists – PWG soldiers. The underground PWG army has an above-ground support structure. Unless we understand the true nature and aims of the PWG the battles and consequent loss of life will not end, just like the jihad in the Kashmir area of J&K in the Indian Union. We must get the facts right. Let me state them with candour.
Maoists are waging a civil war; not merely indulging in “left wing extremism”. The PWG is indoctrinated by Marxism -Leninism -Stalinism -Maoism (definitely its leadership) and aims to overthrow the governments and establish in its stead “dictatorship of the proletariat” which in their belief and theory is the highest form of democracy, as it will be the rule of the poor – industrial and agricultural workers, toilers. As long as policy makers, journalists, politicians and governments don’t recognize and accept this fact, namely that the Maoist PWG is waging a civil war in order to establish a dictatorship of their cadres in the name the proletariat, as in Stalinist Russia and in the People’s Republic of China, the battles between the Maoist PWG and India’s Security Forces will not end and India would be offering the canon- fodder of its Security Forces to the PWG.
The British rulers of India mercilessly eliminated the Thugs in the 1830s and earlier the Pindaris (1817-18) who were, like the Maoists, a parallel power to British rule and preyed on people. They could be eliminated once for all, as unlike Maoist PWG they were not ideologically motivated.
Marxism-communism-Maoism is an ideology. Islamist jihadis are motivated and mobilized by a theology. The expulsion of Hindu Pandits from Kashmir Valley is their notable success. The inability of the government of mighty India to relocate the pandits in safety in their ancestral land fortifies the will of the jihadis to prevail in Kashmir. The decades-long inability of Indian governments to put an end to foreign and local jihadis’ operations in Kashmir results from the undying theological motivation of the jihadis. So are the Indian government’s “combing operations” unable to root out the Maoist PWGs.
The Chief Minister’s belonging to Congress, TDP and even TRS conducted parleys with the emissaries of PWG to end “left wing extremism”. Some Chief Ministers flattered them by saying that they are “misguided patriots”! With such an appalling misunderstanding of PWG’s ideology and aims, it is no wonder that the 40 year long civil war will not come to an end.
Can Maoist PWG engage in battles with government’s forces without continuous acquisition of arms, ammunition, communications equipment and a network for gathering information about the enemy, that is, government’s security forces? It is precisely these requirements that are provided by the above-ground infrastructure of “praja sanghas” people’s organizations, revolutionary writers/poets; people’s artists -singers, balladeers, actors, actresses, activists for human rights, freedom of speech, freedom to agitate, constitutional rights, writers of petitions in courts for right to organize bandhs etc.
Democratic and Progressive Teachers’ Associations, Revolutionary Students Union (RSU), Progressive Democratic Students Union (PDSU), Democratic Students Union (DFSU), Students Federation of India (SFI), All India Students Federation (AISF), All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA) etc., are various forms and constituents of the above-ground infrastructure of the PWG which help equip it with necessary financial, intellectual, legal, psychological, and public relations resources for the underground armed soldiers and agents. Those resources are constantly replenished, also from seized and lost weapons and ammunition of the security forces.
Is it not possible to defeat and destroy the PWG? I cited the British government wiping out the Thugs and Pindaries who were at one point larger in number than the PWG and their above ground accomplices. Unlike our government for the last 40 years, the British had the correct understanding and so the right resolve. In Malaya in the latter 1940s, the communists took to arms against the British. The latter wiped them out by even engaging head-hunters, Dyaks, in the operations.
In Telangana, communists waged war against Indian Union’s Security Forces from September 1948 till Aug 1951. Sardar Patel had resolutely eliminated the gun and bomb wielding communist guerrillas. His work continued after his death in Dec 1950. Under Com. B T Ranadive’s leadership and guidance of Stalin’s COMINFORM, India’s communists took to insurgency to throw out the Nehru government, characterizing it as a running dog of Anglo-American imperialism. Parts of Andhra besides Telangana, Malabar and Bengal, witnessed the communist insurgency. Enacting preventive detention laws, the above-ground insurgent communists were put out of action. Special police hunted and finished the armed gangs. In mid-1951 under Stalin’s orders the communist insurgency was called off.
What should be done?
- There must be recognition that the Maoist PWG’s armed actions are not encounters but battles that are part of the civil war.
- Endless battles are futile. We have no moral right to sacrifice hundreds of CRPF and other police personnel without the resolve to end the 40-year long civil war.
- The Prime Minister must hold a national conference of leaders of political parties, give them the history of the civil war, battles fought, lives lost, the value of nations’ assets and properties and infrastructure destroyed etc., and invite suggestions on how to end the war while disabusing them of the facile notion that poverty and underdevelopment can justify civil war. If that could be the reason, many other areas could fall prey to armed insurrection.
- The Prime Minister should lay bare the nature and constituents of the above-ground infrastructure that sustains the civil war. He must hear all the opinions and suggestions.
- A deadline may be set for the surrender of men and arms. If the PWG does not surrender their men and arms by the deadline set by the government, the government should declare war by all means against the PWG and its above-ground infrastructure.
- If India with the fourth largest armed forces in the world can endlessly suffer and bleed in the war being waged by PWG, how could it withstand a war against China and Pak? India can end Kashmiri jihad only by invading POK. But that would mean nuclear war between India and Pakistan/China. Therefore, we don’t invade POK. We have no alternative to suffering from the “thousand cuts”. But we can and must win the civil war PWG is waging. As a prelude or along with the operation “finish PWG”, the above-ground infrastructure must be eliminated. If necessary, the government should declare an internal emergency under Article 352 of the Constitution.