Mao Tse Tung died 29 years back at the ripe age of 83 in China.
But he is alive in the farmland, forests and hills of a large
part of India, the country which his army invaded in October-November
1962. The Long March which the late leader undertook to overthrow
Chiang Kai Shek led the Kuomintang regime in October 1949 has
been continuing ever since then. In late 1960s Maoists of Indian
origin emerged in Naxalbari subdivision of Darjeeling district
of West Bengal on way to storm Kolkata. The other group organized
itself secretly in Burdwan district of the same state. After a
few years of repression they dispersed and got divided into several
groups and factions. Some even became revisionists, while some
other joined mainstream political parties. Incidentally they always
held the Indian government as aggressor in 1962.
after being crushed in West Bengal some of them who survived sneaked
into neighbouring Bihar where after keeping a low profile for
a few years they emerged strongly once again. Agrarian Bihar provided
a happy hunting ground to them. The caste divide and the feudal
mindset of the upper caste farmers help them consolidate first
in Central Bihar and then elsewhere. The jungles and hills of
South Bihar, which now forms Jharkhand, gave them hideouts to
take shelter. Once they ensconced themselves they spread their
tentacles to East Madhya Pradesh, now Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Andhra
Pradesh and east Uttar Pradeshall these places where
the rural condition is almost identical.
The topography of the whole rain-starved plateauregion also suited
by the end of the last century the Himalayan Kingdom of Nepal
became the major beneficiary of
neighbouring Chinas benevolence. The political vacuum in
that country, poverty and monarchy are to be blamed for their
growth. Thus a corridor from Kathmandu to Karimnagar in Andhra
Pradesh and further down south was formed, where they virtually
ruled the roost. Perhaps seldom in the history the leader of an
enemy nation has been admiredChina in Maos days
was never friendly towards Indiaso much in an alien
land as he. There are many outfits named after him. The most well
known among them is the Maoist Communist Centre (MCC), which had
been active in the region and which
specializes in literally mowing down their enemies. A couple of
years back the MCC merged with the Peoples War, another Maoist
outfit quite active in Andhra Pradesh and other south and central
Indian states. The new united party is now called the CPI (Maoist).
However, there are several other Naxal organizations quite active
in the region. They all have CPI ML sounding names. In fact the
CPI ML was once the main outfit founded by Charu Mazumdar and
company. The name Naxalite was derived from, as mentioned above,
Naxalbari subdivision of Darjeeling district. This is the place
where they first organized in 1960s.
the biggest Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) faction
is called CPI ML (Liberation), which in December 1992 decided
to go overground. In fact it first floated its open organization
called the Indian Peoples Front in 1980s to test the political
water. One of the IPF candidates even won the 1989 parliamentary
election from Ara in 1989the election which brought
V P Singh to power.
Then its leader was (now late) Vinod Mishra, who was once the
student of Durgapur Engineering College (West Bengal). Now the
CPI ML (Liberation) is headed by Dipankar Bhattarcharya, who originally
hails from Assam, and was the students of Statistics. This organization
is active in Bihar, West Bengal and Assam and in the February
2004 assembly election of Bihar it also won seven seats.
advent of Lalu Yadav and subsequent Mandalisation of politics
in early 1990s gave a set back to the CPI ML (Liberation) as several
of its backward caste leaders even crossed over to join the ruling
party. This was unexpected for the disciplined cadre-based party
like CPI-ML. But then Lalu had the credit of splitting other cadre
based party, the BJP in early 1990s, too . However, the CPI ML
(Liberation) gradually regained some of its lost ground.
the other CPI ML outfits either sank into oblivion or were systematically
obliterated. The most dreaded ultra Left outfit now left in the
field is CPI (Maoist) still called MCC in Bihar and Jharkhand
and Peoples War elsewhere.
the CPI ML (Liberation), which now believes in the electoral politics,
the Maoists always call for
the overthrow of the present regime. They are most ruthless in
their approach and still have faith in
First Destruction Then Construction philosophy. Chairman
Maos saying that Power flows out of the
barrel of a gun is still dear and is followed strictly by
do not have any faith in the developmental work undertaken by
the government. Instead they will blow up roads and bridges build
in their area of influence. They will abduct or kill the engineers
or contractors engaged in these work as they think that the purpose
of these government infrastructure is not to the betterment of
the people but their repression.
Mao believed in the philosophy Let villages encircle cities.
He was of the view that village is the strong point of the
revolution and that work in the villages should play the main
role in Chinese revolutionary movement and work in the town an
auxiliary role. The Maoist adopted the same strategy. It
is their sketchy presence in the cities and towns which confused
many urban-centric analysts and journalists from assessing their
the main CPI ML faction the MCC was not formed in Naxalbari, but
further south in Burdwan district of West Bengal. It was established
in 1966 and was not very active initially. It emerged as powerful
group in Bihar in mid-1980s. Among its earliest large scale action
was the killing of 54 Rajputs in Dalechak-Bhagaura village of
Aurangabad district of Bihar. Both the MCC and Peoples War are
highly secretive outfits and in the earlier years hardly anything
was known about their leaders. However, it is said that the MCC
was formed by Kanhia Chatterjee and others.
the ultra Left outfits in Bihar, unlike in Andhra Pradesh and
other states, faced a slightly different
type of challenge. They have not only to fight the state machinery,
which ultimately proved very weak before them, but also the upper
caste feudal elements. The landed castes too were quick to form
their own private armies such as Sunlight Sena, Lorik Sena, Ganga
Sena, Brahmarishi Sena, Ranvir Sena etc. This phenomenon started
in the late 1970s. Unable to match the firepower of the Left extremists
these private armies of the landed castes started targeting unarmed
Dalits, especially their women and children.
the MCC made it a point never to slaughter women and childrenif
they accidentally kill somebody in any operation they would later
apologize through leafletsthe upper caste outfits
would justify the killing of weak and infirm. For example after
the infamous Shankarbigha (in Jehanabad) massacre of 24 Dalits
women and children on January 25, 1999 (that is on the eve of
Republic Day) they issued a Press Release to the newspapers. They
justified the killing of pregnant women and children stating that
samp ka bacha samp hoga (Snake will breed snake).
They think that all the Dalits are the supporters of one Left
extremist outfit or the other. The Press Release also claimed
that they had chosen January 25 evening to butcher them as the
Dalit President of the country
(Late K R Narayanan was then the President) opposed the dismissal
of the Rabri government and the
imposition of President Rule in September 1998). At the time the
Ranvir Sena men were killing the women and children on that evening
President Narayanan was delivering his Republic Day eve speech
on Radio and Television.
other states where the Left extremists are active one never witnessed
the formation of the caste armies even though the Naxals indulged
in several high profile killing there. In Andhra Pradesh they
even managed to kill the then chief minister, Chanra Babu Naidus
close relative, a senior police official. They even once made
an attempt on his life.
Jharkhand and Andhra Pradesh they killed more policemen then in
Bihar. Jharkhand was created on
November 15, 2000 and in the last five years about 300 policemen
have lost their lives, second only to Jammu and Kashmir. As there
is a lot of coal mines and an explosive factory in Jharkhand the
extremists get a lot of dynamite, which they use to trigger blasts
and kill policemen to loot their arms. They have in this period
enforced about 200 days of bandh in the new state. Now they have
adopted similar strategy in Orissa and Chhattisgarh also. The
jungles and hills in these states provided them good bases.
in the plains of Bihar the scene is somewhat different. Since
there is less scope of other economic activities in this state
the landed castes, especially Bhumihars who formed Ranvir Sena
in mid-1990s, got locked in a do or die battle with the ultras.
Here the Left extremists concentrated more on attacking the feudal
and exploited class and slightly less on the state machinery.
The topography too does not help them in attacking police. But
it is not that they have never attacked police or state machinery
two hours long take over of Jehanabad town by over 1,000 strong
well armed CPI (Maoists) activists on November 13 night was an
action unheard of anywhere in the extremists affected region of
the country. Stray guerrilla type attack on police picket or remote
villages is always possible. But a daring attack in the center
of the power of districtthe offices of district magistrate,
superintendent of police, jail, police line were all situated
side by sidecame as rude shock. Jehanabad went to
poll only on October 26 and assembly election in the assembly
segments in its vicinity in neighbouring Nalanda and Patna district
was due on November 19. How could such a strong mob gather and
come from the Patna-Gaya National Highway, which is dotted by
The district authorities indirectly held the Election Commission
responsible for such an unprecedented
incident alleging that only 40 per cent of police force was left
in the districtthe rest were sent in
poll duty in other parts of the state.
extremists struck at Jehanabad within 48 hours after attacking
a police ammunition depot in Giridih district in neighbouring
Jharkhand. If in Jehanabad they managed to set free 341 of their
prisons lodged in the jail and kill several Ranvir Sena men and
cops, in a similar operation in Giridih they killed seven policemen
and decamped with 185 rifles and 2,000 rounds of ammunition. A
similar attack on the ammunition center was made by the extremists
in Orissa last year, whre too they looted hundreds of guns.
election for one day is a different ball game but maintaining
overall peace different.
Incidentally all these happened in the state which is under President
Rule and where, after Kashmir maximum number of central para military
forces are deployed (true they were not in Jehanabad on that night)
for conducting election. The Zonal Inspector General of Police
was A S Nimbran, the author of a book on the Naxal movement. But
perhaps even his experience was not taken into account as much
more emphasis was given to the conduct of election.
Jehanabad incident has opened a new debate, that is, over the
way the central government and the state dispensation surrendered
before the Election Commission. How can the Election Commission
withdraw police from the sensitive districts simply because certain
Mr K J Rao wanted it. What was the Union home ministry, its officials
and the intelligence doing. Simply making the district magistrate
and superintendent of police would not solve the problem.
Chinawhere most people have now forgotten Maos
philosophythe Maoist will not succeed in
overthrowing the government here but if the government machinery
continues to function in such a way they may certainly succeed
in creating chaos and anarchy.
Ahmed has written a nice and comprehensive article and i really
would like to appreciate and thank him for it.he gives a very
good perspective of scene to understand the current scenario of
leftist movement in eastern india especially bihar and jharkhand.but
i felt bad about his concluding paragraphs where he tried to held
mr rao responsible for this distrurbing happening in jehanabad.
mr Rao needs to be applauded and appreciated not be rediculed,
especially by such good jouranalist as mr ahmed.we do need to
praise and recognize those people who have tried to instill some
faith in system in the mind of common people.
R Ravi Truro, UK