‘Not late to counter Maoists politically’

By Saibal Mitra Banning an organization doesn’t help to either root it out or prevent it from carrying on its activities. So, I don’t think the decision to ban the Maoists will serve any purpose. On the contrary, it might help them form a more determined and stronger organization. History shows that whenever the Communist Party was banned, it emerged stronger and bigger. From a political point of view, it is not sensible either. If the Centre proposes a ban on Leninism or Gandhism, shall we support that? Having said that, I must add that I don’t subscribe to this politics of terror and murder. But has the government ever tried to probe why these people resorted to this extreme path? Or, how could the Maoists spread so easily among the tribal people. The answer is no. For the last 60 years, no government has ever addressed the needs of these poor people. They have only made empty promises. The poor have always been used and taken for granted in our country. The Lalgarh movement and all the previous armed Naxalite movements are a consequence of that. Unfortunately, governments in India take a very simplistic view of things and follow the easy route. Once an armed movement spins out of control, they declare it banned and try to crush it with the help of army and police. In the long run, this has no effect. Also, there seems to be an effort to equate this movement with secessionist movements like the one we saw in Punjab and in Kashmir. The Maoists are not a separatist force. They are apparently fighting for the poor and the neglected sections of the society. So, their demands and grievances must be looked at seriously. Whether they are indeed fighting for the betterment of the downtrodden remains to be seen. But we can’t compare the Maoists with Al-Qaida either. Is it too late to counter the Maoists politically? I don’t think so. Any time is good for a dialogue to commence. They can still be called for a discussion and asked to lay down arms. There are other channels through which this movement can be defeated. The civil society, for instance, can play a big role in brokering peace by acting as a mediator between the government and the Maoists. But they are constantly being abused and heckled by the administration. It is sad that the government doesn’t trust them. They only have faith in their dictatorial ways. A simple move on the part of the leaders could have helped defuse tension. They could have visited the area and spoken to PCPA members. Excesses were committed so PCPA was quite justified in asking for an apology. It could have acted as a balm and soothed the frayed nerves. Instead, the government waited for the movement to escalate and take the form of an armed revolt. Courtesy: THE TIMES OF INDIA
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