still counting the dead bodies from the insurgent train derailment

India - Naxal Territory

The disturbing news of more casualties from insurgency in India continues to lead its headlines. The huge toll from the train derailment, the continuing death toll from the landmines and the ambushes against the counter-insurgency corps – it is a full-fledged war in the heart of the country. The fact is the gravity of this situation should have been garnering the headlines well before this. These Naxalites or Maoists or whatever name they go by now-a-days are spread all over the country in staggering proportions in more than 20 states. They virtually rule the country-side in more than 10 states, establishing a quasi-government and ruling the land by the fear of the gun. The urban elite chose to ignore the uprising, living in their deceptive little cocoons within the cities and never truly feeling the impact of this until now. They grew apathetic to the news of daily murders with innocent people being shot to death by these communists and the news of the constant police encounters with naxalites. Sadly, they are de-sensitized to the resulting pictures of strewn dead bodies on their tv screens in their evening news, while the government never truly made an effort to snuff it out early. Until now, your average educated, young, ambitious adult in India has all but tuned this unpleasantness out just as they had managed to concede the dirty politics and corruption as an accepted way of life.

Livelihood for an average villager

For decades the Central government ignored the brewing mutiny in various parts of the country, brushing it off as insignificant to the overall national growth and calling it the jurisdiction of individual States to handle the headache.  Once free economy led to middle class prosperity, as long as the big cities seemed secure from it and the educated grads remained enticing to the multi-nationals to support the continuous urban growth, they looked the other way.  The plights of the poor and uneducated was lost in this heady rise of urban India.  The Naxalites meanwhile not just established a foothold in the remote corners of the neglected and poor rural parts of the country, but steadily grew in strength and numbers and have been running a quasi-government of their own in many parts of remote and not so remote India.  For majority of the poor, uneducated and under-privileged villagers, their livelihood for decades was based on working for their village landlords.  They worked on the fields and the crops on the land owned by these landlords all year round, and toiled hard for the meager remuneration they received from them.

Naxalite Rule

Were these villagers exploited by these landlords?  Of course, they were!  The government failed them, the village heads and the sarpanches were none other than their employers, and they couldn’t dare put up a resistance against the system.  With a heavy Communist influence from the East, once the Naxalites swooped in with the message of liberation and the promise to provide them land of their own and riches without hardship, they became their automatic allies.  Whatever the ideology of Naxalism during its inception, once they took to arms and started killing people ruthlessly under the facade of an increasingly fuzzy cause and started ruling the rural country-side by the fear of the gun, they lost any credibility they might have had at one time.  For the most part, they just degenerated into gun-slinging outlaws who found an easy way out to yield power and control without contributing much to the society.  The poverty stricken villagers were easy pickings to be brainwashed to join their “armies”.  All they had to do was follow these armed men and women who called themselves their friends and whom everyone else seemed to fear, and they’d be taken care of.  It was hard to resist.  Sustained poverty with no education made it an easy choice for these villagers.

Rule of the gun

These same Naxalites call themselves Maoists now, but if they were truly interested in the welfare of these people, instead of recruiting the young to plant bombs to blow up buses and derail trains, and instead of leading them to a point of no return by turning them into killers and murderers to run some rural mafia in the name of a so-called “Moist” revolution, they would have focused on ways to provide them an education and an intellectual growth to open up new worlds.  For years now, they have been extorting the businessmen, the landlords, the politicians, and anyone who has any money by “taxing” them and sparing their lives instead, killing them if they resisted or even remotely suspected to not be “on board” with their ways.  They have been continuously terrorizing these remote regions for decades and all along the central government shockingly looked the other way.  The newspapers went soft on the Naxals and the journos piled on the government and called it a tragedy without focusing much on their extortionist activities for fear of risking their lives.  The politicians were busy filling their coffers; they saw no reason to invite a Naxal retribution either, until the insurgents got braver and stronger and started flexing their muscle and expanding their territories, started killing some MLAs and moved closer and closer to the cities.  Steadily, it regressed to the point that the State CMs were targeted and the uneasiness spread to the business community which has been under a false illusion that they were living in this cozy, isolated, and secure world within the cities.  Only after the potential threat to the economic growth grew quite palpable with the news of the expansion of the Naxal network into the cities  (it was only a matter of time), the Central government pulled its head out of the sand and started addressing the issue.

Corrupt politicians have no credibility

This is not to say that the Indian government is in the clear here.  Years of corruption and utter disregard for the welfare of the people have left them with zero credibility, but you have to pick your poison.  Do you continue to tolerate and try and clean up a pseudo-democratic system full of corrupt politicians or allow a collection of communist “rebels” to end democracy and rule the roost at gunpoint and live under fear?  The States didn’t have the wherewithal to handle them, the Center was mostly disinterested in addressing the issue and together they have allowed a monster to grow out of control and it started threatening the very existence of democracy in the country.  It is not a stretch to say Indian democracy is a sham, because for a long time now, it has remained a democracy that can be rigged and manipulated and mocked and abused and coerced and even plundered, but in spite of all this, it still remains somewhat intact and regardless of its utter misuse  it is still something worth protecting.

Gun trotting children - not that far away from becoming another Congo

The result now is this bloody and most likely prolonged battle with the insurgents.  It is no surprise that it has already turned into a bloodbath, because aided by arms supplied from China and years of building a “kingdom of outlaws” in most of the remote corners of these regions, these insurgents are potent and powerful, and they have terrorized the people in these places long enough that no native will dare help the government and risk losing their lives at their hands.  It is an uphill battle for the central forces, but if this isn’t taken to its logical conclusion now, there is no end to this tragedy.  Just look at the mass murders in Central Africa, mostly conducted by children.  These are children brainwashed by truly evil warlords into committing unspeakable, ruthless carnage.  If you think that is too far-fetched, think again.  Poverty – only a few degrees of separation of it, from poor to destitute, is all that distinguishes these regions.  It is always difficult to climb back up, but once you plunge into the depths of darkness, it doesn’t take that long to reach the abyss.  These children  in these regions are on their way there, thanks to the world they live in – one of guns and violence and  communists and their propaganda fueled by ingrained corruption and dirty politics.