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Naxal-Moist Violence and the Gadchiroli Encounter

Bahaar writes, whether there is an end to the Naxal violence and unrest, and can peace be achieved. Is it possible for the Government and Naxalite-Maoist organisations to reach a consensus.

Gadchiroli is the second least populous district of Maharashtra with a population roughly equal to that of the nation Cyprus. It lies in the southeastern corner of Maharashtra and falls within the periphery of the Red Corridor. It is one of the three districts in Maharashtra affected by left wing extremism. States and districts in the Red Corridor have been subject to a situation of unrest caused by Naxalite-Maoist insurgency for over a decade. It is an ongoing conflict between Naxalite-Maoist organisations and the Government of India. Under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act of 1964, all Naxalite organisations have been declared to be terrorist organisations.

In a recent encounter on 22nd April in Bhamragad Tehsil in Gadchiroli, 16 rebels including two leaders were killed. A day after the encounter, according to Gadchiroli police, six more maoists were killed near Rajaram Khanla village in Aheri Tehsil. The second encounter took place between 7pm to 8pm. In what is being referred to as the biggest-ever success in anti-Maoist operations in Maharashtra by the Maharashtra police, among those killed are 51 year old Srinu alias Vijendra Ramlu and 34 year old Sainath alias Domesh Athram. Both of whom were members of the divisional committee of the South Gadchiroli sect of the CPI (Maoist). This is the first time that two DVC members have been killed in a single encounter in Gadchiroli. Srinu and Sainath had a combined total of over 150 offences registered against them. These include the ambush of police parties, blasts, hit-and-run attacks through action teams, and killings of alleged police informers. This encounter is considered to be different from all other encounters that have been taking place. The death of Srinu and Sainath along with the deaths of Aitu in December 2017 and Sunil Kulmethe earlier this month have eliminated all Maoist military leadership in Gadchiroli. It is also being said that this operation establishes the willingness and ability of the police to strike at the Maoists in their most remote and safe areas. Ravindra Kadam, former Deputy Inspector General of Police (Gadchiroli Range) says in an article by The Indian Express, “It is definitely a very big success, and it will boost the morale of the police very high. With this and some previous encounters, the major striking strength of the Naxals has been largely vanquished and it will be very difficult for them to regain it. They are already facing a huge crunch of fighters, and the new leadership will have to go through the task of re-building their strike force all over again, brick by brick. Sunday’s encounter will demoralise them further.”

Theoretically, the leadership of the Naxalite-Maoist movement claim that they are committed to a “protracted armed struggle” in order to seize power from the State. However, the Maoists also emphasise on the protection of rights of the Adivasis and Dalits- whose land and resources have often been taken by Indian and International corporations. According to data, support for the Maoists is the strongest in remote areas with widespread poverty and minimal government services. The Government of India has claimed several times that the rebels are opposed to development and progress. GN Saibaba an activist and professor at Delhi University refutes this claim and says, “It is not true that the Maoists are against development but the questions they ask are ‘whose development’ and ‘what sort of development’.” Bahukutumbi Raman, a former head of the counter-terrorism division of India’s external intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing in 2010 said, “There are two Indias. The dazzling India which we see everyday on our TV channels, in the spins of our political leaders and in the writings of our so-called strategic analysts. But there is another India which we rarely see or write about. This is the India of grinding poverty, a victim of social exploitation of the worst kind, where the inhabitants- mainly tribals- are treated like chattels and domestic animals by the upper caste political leaders, landlords and forest contractors. It is this India coming out from under the carpet, which is flocking to the banners of the Maoist ideologues.”

 

The question that lies here is whether an end to this violence and unrest can be achieved. Is it possible for the Government and Naxalite-Maoist organisations to reach a consensus? In 2011, then Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh said that development is the means to eradicate Naxalism from India in the long run. However, the nature of the development becomes imperative in this case and whether it is inclusive of the oppressed communities of India. Mere economic growth does not entail the socio-political development of the country.

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One thought on “Naxal-Moist Violence and the Gadchiroli Encounter

  1. Shaurya Vardhan says:

    I completely agree with the fact that this encounter changes the strategy of the police in terms of their willingness to strike proactively. It shows the change in alignment from merely controlling and restricting the insurgency, to completely eliminating it.

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