What is Urban Naxalism?

The term Urban Naxals is not clearly defined. The origin of the word can be traced to the book and a few essays by film-maker and social media opinion-maker Vivek Agnihotri’s book, Urban Naxals: The Making of Buddha in a Traffic Jam.

The phrase of Urban Naxals is loosely attributed to the people with naxalite bent of mind residing in urban areas and working as activists, supporters and protectors of the ideology while the active Naxals battle it out in the jungles and vast swathes of Maoist-dominated areas.

Maoists have an old strategy of looking into urban centres for leadership, organise masses, build a united front and engage in military tasks such as providing personnel, material and infrastructure. This was highlighted even in their 2004 Communist Party of India (Maoist) document titled “Urban Perspective” which elaborates on this strategy with one of the most important focus areas being on gaining leadership from urban areas.

Origin of Naxalism in India:

The Naxalism in India was an offshoot of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) wherein a small group of the party workers decided to break away to launch an armed struggle against big landowners and establishment.

The objective of this small breakaway group was to capture additional lands of big zamindars and distribute the same among the tilling farmers and landless labourers. The leadership for the first Naxal movement was provided by Charu Majumdar, Kanu Sanyal and Jangal Santhal.

How Naxalism Spreads:

Naxals promote an ideology of“bringing about a New Democratic Revolution by launching protracted People’s War, establish base areas, organise People’s Army, and undertake militant mass movements”. This Marxist-Leninist jargon, is beyond the comprehension of the rank and file.

Naxalism spreads by assuring to uphold the interests of the suppressed ones against the prevailing injustices of the establishment, harassment by petty government functionaries, extortion by policemen, and callousness of officers in addressing their grievances.

Naxalism is a sign of poor governance. It is not a coincidence that Naxalism is more dominant in the under-developed areas and has greater influence among those who have faced repercussions due to the faulty socio-economic and political policies of governments.

The Red corridor from Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh to Pashupati in Nepal where Naxals have an overarching influence is one of the under-developed regions of the country. It would not be an exaggeration to say that Naxalism is also a sign of poor governance.

Eradicating Naxalism:

There can be no place for violent armed struggle in Democracy. The government must adopt a twin strategy of dealing in iron hand with the agents of violence and talking to those who are heading a non-violent struggle against the gaps in governance.

To tackle the armed struggle there must be capacity building of state police forces so that they can take on the challenge posed by the People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army with minimal assistance from the Central Armed Police Forces, improving intelligence and ensuring better inter-state and Centre-state coordination.

Development and peace has to go hand in hand. Government must take steps to win the hearts of people in the affected regions. This together with increasing the trustworthiness of the government aids in breaking the forward and backward linkages of the Naxal movement.

Way forward:

Naxal movement is not an entirely internal security issue.  It is a cause of concern, as the government has decided to go after the urban Naxals, there are other sharks in the system who generally remain untouched. These would include, particularly, the rapacious politicians sucking the lifeblood of the country, the corrupt bureaucrats who have amassed fortunes, and the unscrupulous policemen who have nexus with the criminals. They are as much a threat to the democratic structure of the country as are the urban Naxals. There is a need of a comprehensive approach to eradicate Naxalism from the country.

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