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Naxals: To tackle or not to tackle
Should we let all such movements to flourish, allow them to impudently murder, loot, forcefully recruit and continue to make large areas of the country no-go areas for the rest of the citizens and the law enforcement forces?
WHO WOULD have ever thought that the events of a small place called Naxalbari in West Bengal would one day give rise to a new word that would denote a whole rebel/terrorist movement, controlling large swathes of the Indian territory?

"The term Naxalites comes from Naxalbari, a small village in West Bengal, where a extremist section of Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPIM) led by Charu Majumdar and Kanu Sanyal led a violent uprising in 1967, trying to develop a "revolutionary opposition" in opposition to the CPIM leadership."

This is what the wikipedia page says about the start of the whole movement. From those days of the late sixties, the organisation and its very violent movement has grown to : "hold sway in about 180 districts across ten states of India accounting for about 40 per cent of India's geographical area, they are especially concentrated in an area known as the "Red corridor," where they control 92,000 square kilometers. According to India's intelligence agency, the Research and Analysis Wing, 20,000 Naxalites were in April 2006 in operation and their growing influence prompted Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to declare them as the most serious threat to India's national security.

Along the way, they have also been called Maoists and have taken on the Central government and local civil administrations in an ever expanding zone of influence. In the liberal circles of our society, there is often some barely couched sympathy for these modern day Robin Hood wannbes and a lot of ink is wasted on writing about there being valid reasons for prospering of these insurgencies. Government neglect of these areas, corruption and inequalities of all hues are the usual reasons cited. It is argued that the movement thrives only because the under development of these areas provides the ideal breeding ground for the growth of a desire to overthrow the establishment.
It all sounds credible (and there is truth tot he accusations of under development and injustices) but isn't this the kind of logic and justification used by all terrorrist movements? There is always some cause someone is fighting for. There are other parts of the country, too, with chronic problems so should all be solved the Naxal way? Is that the only viable route available to removing the gross injustices and inequities of our country? And anyway, the exploitation of the downtrodden in these areas continues anyway. The naxals are no saviors.

Should we let all such movements to flourish, allow them to impudently murder, loot, forcefully recruit and continue to make large areas of the country no-go areas for the rest of the citizens and the law enforcement forces? While the Left government of West Bengal can have ideological (read puppy love for China) reasons for its lack of desire to take on these maoists/naxalites, why have successive Central governments been so lackadaisical and  piece meal in their efforts to take on these rogues head on?

Barring Home Minister P Chidambaram's recent sterner words the history of fighting the Maoists/naxals has been ill funded, ill armed and ill thought out. If the threat is serious enough for the Prime Minister of the country to call the movement a "serious National security threat," then what holds us back from treating it with the same seriousness and urgency as we show for the Islamic terrorism on our western borders?
We never miss an opportunity in national and international forums to blame Pakistan for sponsoring the jihadis on the western flank, we ask for international help in pressurising Pak to stop nurturing  terrorists in its terror kindergartens ('madrassa') so what holds us back from talking about the China hand in the support and funding of the Maoists not only in India but in Nepal too? Why do we not discuss openly the possibilty of Islamic/Maoists links on our eastern borders. After all, it's the perfect alliance for putting the squeeze on India from both flanks and to achieve the long term goal of de -stabilising India.

Why are state governments, where naxals hold sway, not held accountable for the lack of development? Do local politics and the desire to hold on to power have a role to play in lack of progress in checking the influence of naxalites?

As an ordinary citizen, these are the questions that vex the mind and one wonders if the Centre and /or state governments will ever take effective steps to tackle the naxal menace in a united manner.

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Basudev Mahapatra
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