Naxalites of the Communist Party of India Maoist (CPI-Maoist) have condemned the extension of the proscription on the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), which has been involved in a series of bomb blasts in India. According to media reports, Azad, spokesperson of the Central Committee of the CPI-Maoist, said “it was a reiteration of the (government’s) policy to continue its brutal war on Muslims”.In another statement, Azad also condemned what he called the “double standards of the Indian ruling classes in Kashmir”. He called upon Kashmiri Muslims to “fight back Hindu fascist forces and Indian expansionists”.
The CPI-Maoist has always held the secessionist insurgencies in Jammu and Kashmir and India’s northeast as well as the Tamil Tigers’ war against the Sri Lankan state as “nationality struggles”. At its Unity Congress (also known as 9th Congress) towards the end of January 2007, the CPI-Maoist passed a resolution on ‘Nationality Struggles’, another on ‘Nationalities’, and yet another resolution on ‘Hindu Fascism’.
While it extended support to the secessionist-terrorist movement in Jammu and Kashmir, terming it a nationality struggle, it also said: “The Indian state too has targeted Muslims, branding them ‘terrorist’. After 9/11 and the (Indian) parliament attack, Muslims were targeted once again… Our party is willing to unite in a broad front with all the genuine democratic forces which would be willing to fight back the Hindu fascist offensive.”
In the past, too, with a view to winning the support of the Muslim community, the Maoists sought to convey that they empathise with them. For instance, in 2005, the then Andhra Pradesh State Committee Secretary of the CPI-Maoist extended “moral support” and condemned the arrest in Hyderabad of an accused in the murder of a Gujarat politician.
The current statement relating to the proscription of SIMI could be understood by considering the following. One, it is an attempt to win over the support of the Muslim community and thus broaden their base. Two, the Maoists are making common cause with SIMI by condemning its proscription as they too are a proscribed organisation in some states; they are also banned by the central government under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.
Three, and more importantly, this should be seen in the context of the Maoist tactic of making common cause with any organisation or body that opposes the Indian state either through peaceful means or violently. This is part of the United Front tactics of the Maoists.
According to classical understanding, a Communist party should have three “magic weapons”: strong party, strong army and United Front. According to the CPI-Maoist, they would form two types of fronts: Strategic United Front (SUF) and Tactical United Front (TUF).
In other words, the former refers to joining forces with similar armed groups whereas the latter points to forming alliances with legitimate, overground unarmed groups. As yet, there is no indication to suggest that the CPI-Maoist has formed SUF; but the intention has been made loud and clear.
The working of the TUF is clearly in play at present. As a senior police officer (who was earlier with the anti-Naxalite Special Intelligence Branch in Andhra Pradesh) told this author in July, a TUF serves the Maoists’ agenda in the following ways:
* To consolidate various ‘anti-imperialist’ struggles and bring them on to one platform on the basis of a common working understanding;
* To expand the reach of the Maoists to various sections of society by building contacts with them;
* To expand overground cadre strength, thoroughly indoctrinate them, and then completely incorporate them into organisational work, especially in urban areas;
* Poach partners for potential leaders and ideologues;
* Serves as a good cover from the long arm of the state;
* Essentially being a political activity, it reinforces military activities, i.e., armed struggle.
The CPI-Maoist has a front organisation known as Revolutionary Democratic Front (RDF), which has been proscribed by the central government. Some of its key leaders and units are known to be functioning in various states.
The RDF was the prime mover behind the formation of the People’s Democratic Front of India (PDFI) that was founded in July 2006. Its members include Medha Patkar, Nandita Haksar, S.A.R. Geelani, B.D. Sharma, P. Varavara Rao and Darshan Pal.
Some of its constituent organisations include Samyukta Sangram Committee (West Bengal), Indian Federation of Trade Unions, All India Federation of Trade Unions, Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha, Daman Virodhi Manch (Orissa), Jharkhand Progressive Students Union — an affiliate of the All India Radical Students Federation (AIRSF).
It is important to closely monitor the linkages that overground Maoist groups and individuals might seek to form with Muslim groups. These links would not threaten the security of the country but can serve as a headache that can best be avoided.