Thursday, April 19, 2007

Patriotic Maoists

Patriotic Maoists

I have counted several former Naxalites as my “friends”. I got acquainted with them during my reporting stint and some of them became friends for life. I have hardly met any of them during my past decade-and-a-half of “editing” and have little idea if they are different from people I knew — though I doubt most of the leaders remain “similar”.

I have been fascinated by stories recalling their idealism and sacrifice, they went through, sacrificing a more comfortable life. They were, of course, incorrigible romantics who dreamt of a better India, who gnashed their teeth when they learnt of injustice. Many of them were highly educated and some came from affluent families.

An entire generation of students from Presidency College, Calcutta, became Naxalites in the sixties because they believed they should not take the easy way out and lead middle-class lives while fellow countrymen suffered.

I was moved, therefore, to read these lines on the website of People’s March, the Maoist mouthpiece, recently. “The notion that a Naxalite is someone who hates his country is na├»ve and usually idiotic. He is more likely one who likes his country more than the rest of us, and is thus more disturbed than the rest of us when he sees it debauched. He is not a bad citizen turning to crime; he is a good citizen fighting for justice and equality.”

The home-page, ironically, carries a photo of former prime minister V.P. Singh, who is quoted as saying he would have liked to become a Maoist but for his failing health and age.

It has another statement by former police officer, Prakash Singh, quoted as saying he has no hesitation to declare that many Naxalites are highly motivated and believe they are fighting for their country. The website, finally, has a picture of Bhagat Singh, the martyr, from whom the Maoists seem to be drawing their inspiration. It is difficult to visualise Maoists as patriots today, if only because of the campaign to paint them as terrorists who loot, extort and rape.

By doing so, the government has ruled out all possibilities of a dialogue. A strong government would invite Naxalites to run the show in a subdivision or district — with help from the government — and show what they can deliver differently. A better “system”, after all, is to everyone’s advantage.Statesman


The author of this article has got some facts wrong.We repeat that his blog is an independent personal blog and is not connected to any political party or independent publication.
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